Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine

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Macmillan, Apr 15, 1998 - History - 380 pages
3 Reviews

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Chinese people suffered what may have been the worst famine in history. Over thirty million perished in a grain shortage brought on not by flood, drought, or infestation, but by the insanely irresponsible dictates of Chairman Mao Ze-dong's "Great Leap Forward," an attempt at utopian engineering gone horribly wrong.

Journalist Jasper Becker conducted hundreds of interviews and spent years immersed in painstaking detective work to produce Hungry Ghosts, the first full account of this dark chapter in Chinese history. In this horrific story of state-sponsored terror, cannibalism, torture, and murder, China's communist leadership boasted of record harvests and actually increased grain exports, while refusing imports and international assistance. With China's reclamation of Hong Kong now a fait accompli, removing the historical blinders is more timely than ever. As reviewer Richard Bernstein wrote in the New York Times, "Mr. Becker's remarkable book...strikes a heavy blow against willed ignorance of what took place."

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User Review  - rayeula - LibraryThing

Jasper Becker in Hungry Ghosts: "North Korea seems in the grip of a death-cult psychosis that leaves it impervious to rational notions of self-interest" (339). Bruce Cumings on the kind of racism that ... Read full review

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User Review  - autumnesf - LibraryThing

This is a sobering book. It will keep you up at night and astound you that such things actually happened. But - I also got a different look at Mao. For the longest time I just thought he was horrible ... Read full review

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About the author (1998)

Jasper Becker is currently Beijing bureau chief for the South China Morning Post. He has also written extensively on Chinese affairs for The Guardian, The Economist, and The Spectator. He lives in Beijing.

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