Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962 (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Bloomsbury Publishing USA, Oct 1, 2010 - History - 448 pages
19 Reviews

"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 Dikötter's 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. A new archive law has opened up thousands of central and provincial documents that "fundamentally change the way one can study the Maoist era." Dikötter 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 mesghing of exhaustive research in Chinese archives and narrative drive, Dikötter 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.

  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
6
4 stars
8
3 stars
3
2 stars
0
1 star
2

Review: Mao's Great Famine: The History Of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-62

User Review  - Chris - Goodreads

The introduction to this is one of the most scathing indictments of a government that I've read in a long time. It's also the most engaging part of the book. The bulk of the book itself reads much ... Read full review

Review: Mao's Great Famine: The History Of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-62

User Review  - Russell Jones - Goodreads

For somebody who isn't fully au fait with Modern Chinese history some of the analysis provided by this book can be a little overwhelming as well as removed from the everyday tragedies of the Great ... Read full review

Contents

Two Rivals
3
The Bidding Starts
10
Purging the Ranks
15
Bugle Call
25
Launching Sputniks
34
Let the Shelling Begin
43
The Peoples Communes
47
Steel Fever
56
Wheeling and Dealing
197
On the Sly
208
Dear Chairman Mao
215
Robbers and Rebels
224
Exodus
230
The Vulnerable
243
Children
245
Women
255

Through the Valley of Death
65
Warning Signs
67
Shopping Spree
73
Dizzy with Success
84
The End of Truth
90
Repression
100
The SinoSoviet Rift
104
Capitalist Grain
108
Finding a Way Out
116
Destruction
125
Agriculture
127
Industry
145
Trade
155
Housing
163
Nature 163
174
Survival
189
Feasting through Famine
191
The Elderly
263
Ways of Dying
267
Accidents
269
Disease
274
The Gulag
287
Violence
292
Sites of Horror
306
Cannibalism
320
The Final Tally
324
Epilogue
335
Acknowledgements
339
An Essay on the Sources
341
Select Bibliography
349
Notes
363
Index
405
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

Frank Dikötter is Chair Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong and Professor of the Modern History of China at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is a key proponent of studying the history of China in global perspective, and has published a series of innovative books, from his classic The Discourse of Race in Modern China (Univ. Stanford Press 1992) to the controversial Narcotic Culture: A History of Drugs in China (Univ. Chicago Press 2004). He lives in Hong Kong.

Bibliographic information