Mao's Great Famine

By Frank Dikötter,

Book cover of Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962

Book description

A groundbreaking history of China's Great Famine: winner of the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize 2011 'A gripping and masterful portrait of the brutal court of Mao, based on new research but also written with great narrative verve' Simon Sebag Montefiore 'Harrowing and brilliant' Ben Macintyre 'A critical contribution to Chinese…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Mao's Great Famine as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Few Western intellectuals are aware of the scale of the atrocities during China’s Great Famine. If they had been and had written more on the famine, there could have been a greater impact on popular consciousness.

Yet, Dikötter cared to painstakingly search through local archives, and with his fine book, depicted the well-hidden human miseries to a much broader global audience. This is another book by a person who is foreign to China that greatly inspired me to look into improving China’s food security.

In this prize-winning book, Dikötter confirms that the famine was the worst man-made human catastrophe, not…

From Zhang-Yue's list on understanding China’s great famine.

This book is an excellent account of the disaster that the communist regime brought on its people. I grew up under communism and, together with my family, experienced a parallel disaster. Government controlled media, stores that were always empty, rationed medicine, and the daily trading for food on the illegal black market. The Communist Party Leaders had access to everything, and the people had nothing.

I see very clearly how life is so much different from the way I grew up and how my daughters were able to grow up in America. I feel very fortunate to have been able…

From 1958-1962, Chairman Mao’s disastrous economic policies culminated in a famine that killed forty million people or more. Frank Dikötter combed through Communist Party archives to find documents and first-hand accounts of this tragedy. The archives have since been closed to scholars, so a book like this is now impossible to write. This is not just the story of the greatest man-made disaster in Chinese history, but it is also an indictment of Communist Party rule. The legacy of this famine continues to affect Chinese society. Much of the cruelty, corruption, and cynicism that plagues contemporary China are long-term results…

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