Reading: Mao’s Great Famine

David Turnbull
Published

I’m currently reading “Mao’s Great Famine”, the first book in the “Peoples Trilogy” series by Frank Dikötter. The book covers the infamous Great Leap Forward period of 1958-1962 when Mao Zedong decided he would force China to surpass Britain’s industrial output within 15 years. The result was widespread famine and suffering across China.

As I sit in my warm study reading the book, it’s hard to comprehend the scale of death and misery that was heaped upon the Chinese people by the whims of this one man and the sycophants surrounding him. Dikötter puts the number killed through famine or violence at greater than 45 million, which would place it close to half the number of people who died during the entire Second World War.

This is not a light read, but given China’s recent direction, I believe it is increasingly important to understand its history.

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