Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962 Hardcover – September 28, 2010
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
“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.
A Look Inside Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962
(Click on Images to Enlarge)
Top Customer Reviews
The cumulative effect of DiKotter's reliance on his primary sources is, however, a powerful and devastating exposure of the dimensions of this tragedy and the culpability of the Chinese Communist Party. DiKotter takes pains to rebut the common impression that the famine of the Great Leap Forward was the inadvertant consequence of a terribly mistaken policy exacerbated by bad weather. DiKotter shows very well that the famine and its accompanying events go well beyond simple criminal negligence.Read more ›
To write this book,thousands of new documents hitherto classified were used. These came from many sources,mainly from the Office of Foreign Affairs and other provincial archives. These brutal acts caused the greatest demolition of real estate in history and one third of all housing was turned into rubble. "Homes were pulled down to make fertilizers,to build canteens,to relocate villagers,to straighten roads,to make place for a better future beckoning ahead or simply to punish thier owners".
But not all the people died of hunger. Many would suffer from common illnesses such as diarrhoea,dysentery and typhus. "Suicide reached epidemic proportions and in Puning,Guangdong,suicides were described as 'ceaseless' ;some people ended their lives out of shame for having stolen from fellow villagers."(p.304) What's more,"human flesh was traded on the black market.Read more ›
I know many of the facts this book presents from history books published in Chinese. This is the first English book I read about this topic written by a foreigner. I must say this author did plenty of research, not only from Chinese sources, but from sources of other countries. So I did learned something which I did not know before. One example, the book told us Mao pressured to export more meat and other goods, but "When the pressure to deliver increased", the quality goes down. "The Soviet Union lodged repeated complaints of the quality of meat, which was often contaminated by bacteria, 1/3 of pork tins were rusty, ... paper exported to HongKong was unusable, ... West Germany discovered salmonella in 500 tonnes of eggs, Swiss found a fifth of shipped coal consisted of stones..."
The author estimates Mao's experiment to have caused 45 million deaths. People who enamored of collectivist schemes should read this book carefully.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The scholarship and research are amazing, but the book is still imminently readable to the average reader. Read morePublished 7 days ago by hckondos
Extremely well written and informative in my view. This book is a MUST READ for all those who thought the holocaust was bad. Seems to be thoroughly researched. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Amazon Customer
This was an absolutely fascinating read. I had no idea how many people had died, and am not sure how this event has escaped every world history class I have taken. Read morePublished 14 days ago by C. Locheiven
Steady stream of statistics. One is led to believe China had never had a famine or flood or drought and that Mao's ignorance was the cause of China's first disaster.Published 21 days ago by Michael E Sweeney
One of the greatest and saddest stories in human history. Professor Dikotter shows how sheer ignorance of the basic laws of economics, ignored out of sensationalist and absurd... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Maimon
Excellent starting point for understanding a key influence in the lives of many millions of Chinese still alive today, which has impacted on their many millions of descendants. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Patrick Dessi
This book is a terrible read unless you want to know the basics. The author gives you no back story or details about how the communists came to power or anything like this. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Bobby Van Cleve