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Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's…
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Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe,… (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 2010; vuoden 2018 painos)

– tekijä: Frank Dikötter (Tekijä)

Sarjat: People's Trilogy (2)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
6281728,143 (3.89)36
""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 with and overtake Britain in less than fifteen years. The experiment ended in the greatest catastrophe the country had ever known, destroying tens of millions of lives." So opens Frank Dikotter'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. However, a new archive law has opened up thousands of central and provincial documents that "fundamentally change the way one can study the Maoist era."" "Dikotter 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 propelled the country in the other direction. It became not only one of the most deadly mass killings in human history--at least 45 million people were worked, starved, or beaten to death--but also the greatest demolition of real estate in history, as up to one 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 in Chinese archives and narrative drive, Dikotter 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."--BOOK JACKET.… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:ChristopherCutler
Teoksen nimi:Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-62
Kirjailijat:Frank Dikötter (Tekijä)
Info:Bloomsbury Paperbacks (2018), Edition: Illustrated, 448 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
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Mao : Kiinan suuri nälänhätä 1958-1962 (tekijä: Frank Dikötter) (2010)

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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 17) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
This book chronicles the Great Leap Forward which in terms of casualties rivals the two world wars as the biggest man-made disaster in all of history. The author explains quite clearly just how dysfunctional Mao's communist dictatorship was. The party leadership had absolutely no grasp of how economic production could in practice be increased. Even worse, only a few of them (very slowly) came to understand the extent of their ignorance and the damage their absurd policies had wrought on the people. The mad dash for impressive statistics had no basis in reality. Massive amounts of grain were still being exported when the population was beginning to starve. Communist collectivization destroyed all work incentives, leaving violent coercion as the only means of getting anything done. And what was done usually made no economic sense whatsoever. Crops rotted in the fields while malnourished people dug canals and reservoirs. Tools and utensils were melted down to "produce" iron which was of such worthless quality that it had to be discarded immediately.

The general history of this period has been told many times before. What separates this account from previous ones is that the author has perused a huge number of detailed and even personal accounts of these years, especially in the countryside which suffered the most. Many chapters of this book are in fact nothing more than an extended list of stories about human suffering. This certainly brings home the extent of the catastrophe more vividly than a mere death toll, but I still thought the listing was a bit excessive. I would have preferred a shift in emphasis towards how the party machine guided this mad destruction. Nevertheless, this book is certainly worthwhile for anyone who wants to understand the realities of modern Chinese history.
  thcson | Oct 29, 2020 |
Local and Provincial Archives Provide Many Anecdotes that Support Statistics

Frank Dikötter's "Mao's Great Famine" is one of three definitive and very detailed statistical analyses of the Great Famine, including Jasper Becker's 1996 book "Hungry Ghosts" and Yang Jisheng's 2012 book "Tombstone." Whereas Becker brought interviews and gumshoe reporting to the table (as well as being one of the first academics to put the blame solely on the Communist Party) which Yang expanded upon (though the English translation is supposedly half of the original Chinese), Dikötter brings an exhaustive look at statistics and reports contained in regional and provincial party archives.

In the first section of the book, Dikötter gives a background on communism in China as it led to the famine. He focuses on the rivalry between China and the Soviet Union. The stage for the famine was set, according to Dikötter, when China pushed away from the Soviets. Collectivization and absurd top-down agricultural practices began. The Great Leap Forward began a well-documented campaign against nature that ultimately led to failed harvests, as well as the campaign to remove practical tools from private citizens. In the second section of the book, the spiral toward famine is described: trading grain for industrial equipment from Eastern Europe, mismanagement of food stores, and the misrepresented inflation of grain production at all levels of the communist hierarchy, from local cadres to provincial governors. The third section develops the first and second sections with local archival evidence.

The fourth section gives more clear indictments of members of the communist party. While local cadres live moderately well, higher-ups at the provincial level feast away, stealing and skimming grain in order to further their own careers. Signs of famine are clear, as Liu Shaoqi - the hero soon-to-be ostracized national leader of Dikötter's book - reports at national meetings.

The fifth section begins the description of the horrors inflicted on the people of China. Mostly anecdotes from local archives, this section offers heartbreaking stories of the children, women, and elderly who suffered. The sixth section continues to detail the impact of the famine. It gives gruesome statistics and anecdotes about depopulated villages, cannibalism, and disease. We also learn of the Communist Party's attempts to justify the famine that they oddly refuse to acknowledge, saying that deaths are inevitable in such a "Great Leap Forward."

Throughout the book, Dikötter offers statistics and numbers to back his claims, often to the detriment of the reader who might not understand what 100,000 tons of grain looks like. These statistics are no doubt useful, but they are also easy to criticize, not knowing where they came from or whether they are reliable. The book includes an excellent index. Readers will struggle with the references, which in the case of the useful anecdotes are cited from regional archives, none of which can be further examined by the reader.

Dikötter makes the case that Mao and the Chinese Communist Party was directly responsible for the famine. The case is hardly disputable. While non-political famines have occurred in Chinese history, there is clear evidence in this case that more than 30 million people died as a result of inhuman policies. Dikötter puts the number at 45 million. While academics may quibble about the number, there is little doubt that this catastrophe was made by humans. ( )
  mvblair | Aug 8, 2020 |
Well, this pretty well establishes Mao Ze Dong’s place in history as the greatest mass murderer ever. ( )
1 ääni RobertP | Jan 24, 2019 |
Perhaps not a bad book, but poorly read in my audio edition. Russian and German dictatorships seem mohave been more dramatic, more colourful, better stories. Perhaps that is me trivialising things. Overwhelming impression of humourless vacuousness of Communist proceedings, as if charmless children had takeover the nursery. Huge suffering is brought about by naive ideas, interpersonal bickering and blindness to reality. Six thousand years of high civilisation out the window. ( )
  vguy | Jan 24, 2015 |
Methodical but informative. ( )
  VGAHarris | Jan 19, 2015 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 17) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
In the late 1950s, thousands of Chinese farmers starved to death while toiling on massive irrigation projects, under orders to meet Mao Zedong’s outlandish expectations for growth. Most laborers didn’t speak up because they feared the authorities would label them rightists.

Under the “Great Leap Forward,” as Mao called it, China was supposed to be able to catch up to Britain’s steel production in 15 years – an utterly unrealistic goal which led to a horrific famine and crisis. Villagers in one northern province called the projects “The Killings Fields,” an eerie presage of Pol Pot’s Cambodia. Heaps of bodies were dumped into ditches – as the world would later see done by the Khmer Rouge.

In Mao’s Great Famine, historian Frank Dikötter assembles a treasure chest of these historic facts, but more important, he strokes them together into a masterly and memorable story. He unearths astounding evidence of the violence carried out in the name of Maoism from 1958 to 1962 – a tragedy whose scope has been uncertain until recently, because the party had revealed its documents only to their most trusted historians.
 
Frank Dikötter has written a masterly book that should be read not just by anybody interested in modern Chinese history but also by anybody concerned with the way in which a simple idea propagated by an autocratic national leader can lead a country to disaster, in this case to a degree that beggars the imagination.

The basic narrative of the great famine that hit the People's Republic around 1960 has been known outside China at least since Jasper Becker's groundbreaking 1996 account, Hungry Ghosts. Its claims were doubted by those who could not accept the sheer monstrous scale of the calamity visited on the Chinese people as a result of the Great Leap Forward launched by Mao in 1958 to propel China into the ranks of major industrial nations. But now Dikötter's painstaking research in newly opened local archives makes all too credible his estimate that the death toll reached 45 million people.
 

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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 with and overtake Britain in less than fifteen years. The experiment ended in the greatest catastrophe the country had ever known, destroying tens of millions of lives." So opens Frank Dikotter'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. However, a new archive law has opened up thousands of central and provincial documents that "fundamentally change the way one can study the Maoist era."" "Dikotter 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 propelled the country in the other direction. It became not only one of the most deadly mass killings in human history--at least 45 million people were worked, starved, or beaten to death--but also the greatest demolition of real estate in history, as up to one 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 in Chinese archives and narrative drive, Dikotter 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."--BOOK JACKET.

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