Mao's Great Famine

Mao's Great Famine

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

eBook - 2010 | 1st U.S. ed.
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""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 with and overtake Britain in less than fifteen years. The experiment ended in the greatest catastrophe the country had ever known, destroying tens of millions of lives." So opens Frank Dikotter's astonishing, riveting, magnificently detailed chronicle of an era in Chinese history much speculated about but never before fully documented because access to Communist Party archives has long been restricted to all but the most trusted historians. However, a new archive law has opened up thousands of central and provincial documents that "fundamentally change the way one can study the Maoist era."" "Dikotter 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 propelled the country in the other direction. It became not only one of the most deadly mass killings in human history---at least 45 million people were worked, starved, or beaten to death---but also the greatest demolition of real estate in 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 narrative drive, Dikotter 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."--BOOK JACKET.
Publisher: New York : Walker & Co., 2010.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 9780802779281
080277928X
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xxi, 420 p., [8] p. of plates) : ill., map.
Contents: Two rivals
The bidding starts
Purging the ranks
Bugle call
Launching sputniks
Let the shelling begin
The people's communes
Steel fever
Warning signs
Shopping spree
Dizzy with success
The end of truth
Repression
The Sino-Soviet rift
Capitalist grain
Finding a way out
Agriculture
Industry
Trade
Housing
Nature
Feasting through famine
Wheeling and dealing
On the sly
'Dear Chairman Mao'
Robbers and rebels
Exodus
Children
Women
The elderly
Accidents
Disease
The gulag
Violence
Sites of horror
Cannibalism
The final tally.
Summary: ""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 with and overtake Britain in less than fifteen years. The experiment ended in the greatest catastrophe the country had ever known, destroying tens of millions of lives." So opens Frank Dikotter's astonishing, riveting, magnificently detailed chronicle of an era in Chinese history much speculated about but never before fully documented because access to Communist Party archives has long been restricted to all but the most trusted historians. However, a new archive law has opened up thousands of central and provincial documents that "fundamentally change the way one can study the Maoist era."" "Dikotter 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 propelled the country in the other direction. It became not only one of the most deadly mass killings in human history---at least 45 million people were worked, starved, or beaten to death---but also the greatest demolition of real estate in 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 narrative drive, Dikotter 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."--BOOK JACKET.

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c
cstorz
Jun 10, 2018

Among the great catastrophes of the 20th century, Mao's Great Leap Forward initiative ranks as one with the highest actual body count. 45 million people died as a result of the edicts of Mao's centrally planned state and cult of personality. If you wish to read about the depths of human depravity and evil, then look no further. What you read here will tell you everything you want to know about just how dark is the soul of man.

r
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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