Iris was recognized in 1998 for her best-selling book, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, published in November 1997 by Basic Books. At age 30, Iris was one of the youngest Uni High alumni to be recognized with the Beberman Award.
At the time of the Award, Iris' book had been on the New York Times bestsellers list for four months. With more than 100,000 copies sold, it also was an international bestseller in Canada and Taiwan. An excerpt of The Rape of Nanking was published in Newsweek magazine in December 1997, and the book was about to undergo its 20th printing. She has gone from being the youngest author published by Basic Books, a division of Harper Collins, to being its best-selling author.
A 1989 journalism graduate of the U of I, Iris worked as a reporter for the Associated Press and as an intern at The Chicago Tribune before earning a master's degree from the Johns Hopkins University's writing program.
In addition to The Rape of Nanking, Iris is the author of Thread of the Silkworm, a definitive biography of Dr. Tsien Hsue-shen, the father of modern Chinese rocketry and the so-called Chinese "silkworm" missile. The book was first published in December 1995. In 2003, she published The Chinese in America : A Narrative History.