Mao's Great Famine

Mao's Great Famine

The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962

Book - 2010
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An unprecedented, groundbreaking history of China's Great Famine that recasts the era of Mao Zedong and the history of the People's Republic of China.

"Between 1958 and 1962, China descended into hell. Mao Zedong threw his country into a frenzy with the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to catch up to and overtake Britain in less than 15 years The experiment ended in the greatest catastrophe the country had ever known, destroying tens of millions of lives." So opens Frank Dik#65533;tter's riveting, magnificently detailed chronicle of an era in Chinese history much speculated about but never before fully documented because access to Communist Partyarchives has long been restricted to all but the most trusted historians. A new archive law has opened up thousands of central and provincial documents that "fundamentally change the way one can study the Maoist era." Dik#65533;tter makes clear, as nobody has before, that far from being the program that would lift the country among the world's superpowers and prove the power of Communism, as Mao imagined, the Great Leap Forward transformed the country in the other direction. It became the site not only of "one of the most deadly mass killings of human history,"--at least 45 million people were worked, starved, or beaten to death--but also of "the greatest demolition of real estate in human history," as up to one-third of all housing was turned into rubble). The experiment was a catastrophe for the natural world as well, as the land was savaged in the maniacal pursuit of steel and other industrial accomplishments. In a powerful meshing of exhaustive research in Chinese archives and narrativedrive, Dik#65533;tter for the first time links up what happened in the corridors of power-the vicious backstabbing and bullying tactics that took place among party leaders-with the everyday experiences of ordinary people, giving voice to the dead and disenfranchised. His magisterial account recasts the history of the People's Republic of China.

Publisher: New York : Walker & Co., 2010
ISBN: 9780802777683
0802777686
Branch Call Number: 951.055 DIK NVD
Characteristics: 420 p

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rlottie
Oct 26, 2014

Filled with facts and figures, Mao's Great Famine can be a tedious read at times. However, if you want to delve into the seemingly historically accurate details of the famine, this is a must read. The book was thoroughly researched, to a degree unmatched in other sources. Hence, I would recommend it to students of Chinese history, and to anyone else who thirsts for the truth about Mao and his regime.

debwalker Jan 04, 2011

Chosen as his book of the year by Theodore Dalrymple: "As subject matter for books, historical events that cause 45 million deaths tend to put others rather in the shade. Mao's Great Leap Forward was such an event. Dikotter weaves together the high politics and individual suffering of these terrible years. Mao emerges as every bit the equal of Lenin and Hitler in his indifference to the deaths of millions. A party that claims apostolic succession to Mao has much to fear from the study of history."

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