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

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9781408812198: Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-62
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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 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. Access to Communist Party archives has long been denied to all but the most loyal historians, but now a new law has opened up thousands of central and provincial documents that fundamentally change the way one can study the Maoist era. Frank Dikotter's astonishing, riveting and magnificently detailed book chronicles an era in Chinese history much speculated about but never before fully documented. Dikotter shows that instead of lifting the country among the world's superpowers and proving the power of communism, as Mao imagined, in reality the Great Leap Forward was a giant - and disastrous - step in the opposite direction. He demonstrates, as nobody has before, that under this initiative the country 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 the greatest demolition of real estate - and catastrophe for the natural environment - in human history, as up to a third of all housing was turned to rubble and the land savaged in the maniacal pursuit of steel and other industrial accomplishments. Piecing together both the vicious machinations in the corridors of power and the everyday experiences of ordinary people, Dikotter at last gives voice to the dead and disenfranchised. Exhaustively researched and brilliantly written, this magisterial, groundbreaking account definitively recasts the history of the People's Republic of China.

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“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)

Autumn 1955–Spring 1956: Mao, displeased with the slow pace of economic development, pushes for huge increases in the production of grain, cotton, coal and steel. November 1957: Mao visits Moscow. Impressed by the Soviet sputnik, the first satellite launched into orbit, he declares that the ‘East wind will prevail over the West wind’. Summer 1958: Farm collectives are amalgamated into gigantic people’s communes of up to 20,000 households. Famine conditions appear in many parts of the country.

About the Author:

Frank Dikotter is Chair Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong and Professor of the Modern History of China on leave from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has pioneered the use of archival sources and published nine books that have changed the way historians view modern China, from the classic The Discourse of Race in Modern China (1992) to his last book entitled China Before Mao: The Age of Openness (2007). Frank Dikotter is married and lives in Hong Kong.

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Book Description Penguin Books India/Bloomsbury, 2010. Softcover. Condition: New. First edition. An unprecedented, groundbreaking history of China`s Great Famine that recasts the era of Mao Zedong and the history of the People`s Republic of China. 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 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 astonishing, 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, as at least 45 million people were worked, starved or? beaten to death, but also the greatest demolition of real estate in human history, as up to a 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 meshing of exhaustive research 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. Printed Pages: 448. Seller Inventory # 27204

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