Catastrophe and Contention in Rural China: Mao's Great Leap Forward Famine and the Origins of Righteous Resistance in Da Fo Village

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Cambridge University Press, May 5, 2008 - Political Science
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This book documents how China's rural people remember the great famine of Maoist rule, which proved to be the worst famine in modern world history. Ralph A. Thaxton, Jr., sheds new light on how China's socialist rulers drove rural dwellers to hunger and starvation, on how powerless villagers formed resistance to the corruption and coercion of collectivization, and on how their hidden and contentious acts, both individual and concerted, allowed them to survive and escape the predatory grip of leaders and networks in the thrall of Mao's authoritarian plan for a full-throttle realization of communism – a plan that engendered an unprecedented disaster for rural families. Based on his study of a rural village's memories of the famine, Thaxton argues that these memories persisted long after the events of the famine and shaped rural resistance to the socialist state, both before and after the post-Mao era of reform.

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This volume looks at the "early years" of the PRC. It delves into the lesser known events, avoiding the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution in favor of how the CCP consolidated power in the ... Read full review

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About the author (2008)

Ralph A. Thaxton, Jr, is a Professor of Politics and the Chairman of the East Asian Studies Program at Brandeis University. He is the author of Salt of the Earth: The Political Origins of Peasant Protest in China (1977) and China Turned Rightside Up: Revolutionary Legitimacy in the Peasant World (1983). He was named a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of California Berkeley Center for Chinese Studies (1974–5) and a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study (2002) and has won numerous prizes and fellowships, including a Harry Frank Guggenheim Fellowship, a Chang Ching-kuo Foundation International Fellowship, and the United States Institute of Peace Fellowship.

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