Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Livelihood Issues: Mao's Great Famine (Book Review: How Mao Killed 43 Million People in Four Years)
Literary Review ^ | September 2010 | Jonathan Mirsky/Frank Dikötter

Posted on 09/06/2010 6:06:59 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o

In 1936 Mao Tse-Tung, then a cave-dwelling revolutionary, told Edgar Snow his life story. Snow recorded Mao's self-serving autobiography in Red Star Over China, which for decades made the American's name as the leading reporter in China.

Back in China twenty-four years later, Snow was pestered by news agencies enquiring about mass starvation. The Snow of the 1930s had gone into the field to see for himself a prolonged drought in the north-west, where people were rumoured to be selling their children. But this time he relied on his access to top officials such as Premier Zhou Enlai, and foreigners who flacked for China such as the New Zealander Rewi Alley.

In the book he wrote about that trip, The Other Side of the River, Snow stated, 'I saw no starving people in China ... Considerable malnutrition undoubtedly existed. Mass starvation? No.' And most positively: 'Whatever he was eating, the average Chinese maintained himself in good health, as far as anyone could see.'

In brutal fact, between 1959 and 1962, at least forty-three million Chinese died during the famine Snow didn't bother to see. Most died of hunger, over two million were executed or were beaten or tortured to death, the birth rate halved in some places, parents sold their children, and people dug up the dead and ate them.

The cause of this disaster, the worst ever to befall China and one of the worst anywhere at any time, was Mao, who, cheered on by his sycophantic and frightened colleagues, decreed that before long China's economy must overtake that of the Soviet Union, Britain and even the US. Mao suggested that 'When there is not enough to eat people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill,' and declared that anyone who questioned his policies was a 'Rightist', a toxic term eventually applied to thirteen million Party members.

The outlines and many of the specifics of this catastrophe have been known in the West for decades. A few brave Chinese, too, have exposed what they discovered. Mao's doctor, Li Zhisui, wrote about it from his exile in the United States, and some revealing local studies by Americans have made clear what happened in certain villages.

Now Frank Dikötter, a professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and at Hong Kong University, has laid out the vast horror in detail, drawing on local and provincial archives that have only recently become available to approved foreign scholars. In terms of Mao's reputation this book leaves the Chairman for dead, as a monster in the same league as Hitler and Stalin - and that is without considering the years of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), when hundreds of thousands more Chinese died. One of Dikötter's observations is that Mao instigated the Cultural Revolution to wreak revenge on close colleagues who had dared to show him up.

It is a mark of the historical darkness that still envelops China that many Chinese blame the famine on the Soviet Union, which, they maintain, snatched food from the mouths of starving Chinese by insisting that Beijing export grain to repay Moscow's loans.

Until recently, Dikötter states, most accounts of the famine have been based on central government sources that are often incomplete or untrue. What he found during his years rummaging in archives throughout China was that such central documents were transmitted in fuller, less censored versions to the provinces and below.

In addition, the archives he saw contained letters of complaint or justification from local officials and even ordinary people, minutes from local and even central meetings, and statistics which were either falsified to hoodwink Mao or local superiors, or were subtle enough to reveal that awful things were happening. For example, in 1960 in the 'model province' of Henan, in Xinyang alone 'over a million people died ... Of these victims 67,000 were clubbed to death with sticks'.

When this came to Mao 'he blamed the trouble on class enemies'. On another occasion, when the Chairman learned that there had been terrible deaths in one town he had hitherto admired, 'Mao simply switched his allegiance to the next county down the road willing to outdo others in extravagant production claims.' Mao and his cronies insisted, as one of them put it as reports of deaths rolled in, that 'This is the price we have to pay; it's nothing to be afraid of. Who knows how many people have been sacrificed on the battlefields and in the prisons [for the revolutionary cause]? Now we have a few cases of illness and death; it's nothing!'

Every detail was locally recorded and explained - or obscured. Take this report from 25 February 1960 in Yaohejia village: 'Name of culprit: Yang Zhongsheng ... Name of victim: Yang Ecshun. Relationship with Culprit: Younger Brother ... Manner of Crime: Killed and Eaten. Reason: Livelihood Issues.'

Society completely unravelled. In the newly established communes, peasants following Mao's lunatic advice ploughed their paddies uselessly deep. They dismantled their houses to use as fertiliser, and melted down their tools to make the steel Mao had decreed was the mark of an advanced socialist country (after all wasn't Stalin 'the man of steel'?). Other peasants abandoned their fields and marched miles to work all night constructing mammoth water schemes that often came to nothing, while their families died without grain at home. The only reason millions more didn't starve, as Dikötter describes in detail, is because of their desperate ploys to steal food.

[snip]

This is for now the best and last word on Mao's greatest horror. Frank Dikötter has put everyone in the field of Chinese studies in his debt, together with anyone else interested in the real China. Sooner or later the Chinese, too, will praise his name.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: china; communism; foodsupply; lyingleft; mao; maotsetung; populationcontrol; starvation
Leftwing Western journalists and historians flagrantly lied, boosted Mao as a great leader, covered up these catastrophic crimes for years.

This is not news; the news is that, slowly, 50 years later, the truth is coming out.

That seems to be the rule of thumb. At least 50 years has to pass before you get solid documentation of what was really going on.

You realize Obama had Mao Tse Tung ornaments on the White House Christrmas tree, right?

There must be a God to give justice in the next life, because there's no justice in this one.

1 posted on 09/06/2010 6:07:06 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o

yup ...kill whitey


2 posted on 09/06/2010 6:09:18 AM PDT by dalebert
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: James C. Bennett; dhs12345; yldstrk; Cacique; jcon40; Oakeshott; colonialhk
If you're interested in China, you may be interested in this. (Obama's Christmas tree ornament. I hope the picture posts this time.)


3 posted on 09/06/2010 6:12:14 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (Kyrie eleison (40 x))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o
So Obama is our “American Mao”.
4 posted on 09/06/2010 6:13:36 AM PDT by oldbrowser (Barack the Bungler must step down.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o
Leftwing Western journalists and historians flagrantly lied

And they ignored or hid what Stalin did in the Ukraine famine. And they are still lying and covering up for the Commies. Starvation is a terrible weapon, look at what the House passed last year in HR2749. ( http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-2749 ) Vote in House at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2009-680

Read this bill carefully and it is clear that they intended to make it illegal for you to grow your own food, in the name of food safety. This is the ultimate Commie crowd control tool. If you look at what happened to it in the Senate markup you will realize how totally out of control Congress is. This bill gets NO coverage in the news.

5 posted on 09/06/2010 6:22:49 AM PDT by Texas Fossil (Government, even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,”
Just sayin’


6 posted on 09/06/2010 6:24:19 AM PDT by VaRepublican (I would propagate taglines but I don't know how. But bloggers do.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: oldbrowser

Van Jones is a FUTURE Pol Pot.


7 posted on 09/06/2010 6:26:56 AM PDT by Le Chien Rouge
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: oldbrowser
Mao is the guy the Weather Underground bunch so admired. Their book, Prairie Fire, is named after a comment of his, and they envisioned a Mao style takeover of the USA.Their greatest protege is Barrack Obama.
8 posted on 09/06/2010 6:27:30 AM PDT by Red Boots
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: VaRepublican
It all depends on the definition of Justice, eh? I think Obama believes a synonym is: “payback”.
9 posted on 09/06/2010 6:31:10 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o

Want to bet Anita Dunn put that Mao ornament on the WHITE HOUSE CHRISTMAS TREE???

What a disgrace.


10 posted on 09/06/2010 6:33:48 AM PDT by silverleaf (Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o

Very interesting review. Thanks for posting this.


11 posted on 09/06/2010 6:36:09 AM PDT by Girlene
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Texas Fossil

And don’t forget that they turned off the water to the farmers in California.


12 posted on 09/06/2010 6:41:58 AM PDT by ryderann
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: ClearCase_guy

Ok I’m slow....please explain.


13 posted on 09/06/2010 6:42:22 AM PDT by VaRepublican (I would propagate taglines but I don't know how. But bloggers do.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o

I’d love to buy one of these to send to a favorite leftist I know...


14 posted on 09/06/2010 6:42:51 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (Impeachment !)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: ClearCase_guy
Oh wait, you mean payback for 0 is synonymous with justice, sorry, I said I was slow.
15 posted on 09/06/2010 6:48:10 AM PDT by VaRepublican (I would propagate taglines but I don't know how. But bloggers do.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o; All

I just started reading M. Stanton Evans book about Joe McCarthy called Blacklisted by History. I knew McCarthy was railroaded, but I had no idea just how much the Democrats had tried to cover up the communist infiltration of our government in the 1940s and 50s!

I urge everyone to read Evans’ book. It is well worth the time and the book is inexpensive too.


16 posted on 09/06/2010 7:04:08 AM PDT by vladimir998 (Part of the Vast Catholic Conspiracy (hat tip to Kells))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o
Cannabalism was also well documented during the years of the Chinese Cultural Revolution
17 posted on 09/06/2010 7:08:46 AM PDT by Tainan (Cogito, ergo conservatus)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: vladimir998
I've read it too and heartily endorse your suggestion. It will also lead one to read other books regarding Americans placing socialist beliefs above love of, and duty to, country.
18 posted on 09/06/2010 7:55:24 AM PDT by BilLies (no)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Tainan
Years ago I worked with an odd Chinese woman who tended to laugh at inappropriate times (I think this may be a Chinese thing).

At one point (for some reason) I mentioned pumpkins, which I consider a very New England type of vegetable and I said that she may not have eaten one -- "Oh no!" she said, "In China we grew many pumpkins! My district in China was famous for pumpkins! My grandfather grew more pumpkins than anyone else in our village!"

Then she started giggling and added "That's why they killed him."

19 posted on 09/06/2010 8:10:01 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: VaRepublican; Mrs. Don-o
There must be a God to give justice in the next life, because there's no justice in this one.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” Just sayin’

Just sayin' what? Do you not have the courage to stand behind what you say? Is "Just sayin'" intended as an out? Is it saying that someone may say that but not you?

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,”

For whom? For the millions who were murdered before Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc., died or were overthrown? Where is their justice unless it is like Mrs. Don-o says, in the afterlife?

20 posted on 09/06/2010 8:17:56 AM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Tainan

As it is now in North Korea.


21 posted on 09/06/2010 8:23:10 AM PDT by tiki
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: Mind-numbed Robot
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice"

You may not have caught the news. This is a quote which now appears on the rug in the Oval Office. The rug (commissioned by Obama) credits the quote to Martin Luther King, but this is an embarrassing error. The quote comes from a nineteenth century figure.

The rug now symbolizes Obama's incompetence, his inability to check details, his sense that 20th century civil rights leaders are the only American figures worth paying attention to, and his apparent sense that "justice" and "morality" belong to the Left exclusively.

Mao killed tens of millions? Well, he is yet another 20th century figure whom Obama likes. The quote on the rug needs to be interpreted in such a way that Mao would say it and have it work toward his murderous ends.

22 posted on 09/06/2010 8:27:18 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Mind-numbed Robot

Ok I wanna call you a name but I won’t. in the context of the article and the response which shows obambo’s “Christmas” ornament my comment was to turn around his own “favorite” quote on his rug. Dude context is a good thing. They, the left leaning, use it against the right on a daily basis I used one of his favorite quote’s to illustrate that justice will come back to him. Damn did your kid piss in yer wheaties this morn?


23 posted on 09/06/2010 8:31:05 AM PDT by VaRepublican (I would propagate taglines but I don't know how. But bloggers do.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o

Tell me if this sounds sinister to you all. My granddaughter just met a Chinese exchange student. Get this, her name is Nancy. The first thing I asked and obviously something my gd thought odd, is how does a Chinese girl get such an American name? According to her every Chinese student gets an American name when they start school and they are taught American English.

My first thought was that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, but following on that thought was that it would sure make it easier for Chinese people to take over the U.S., you know, I mean if....


24 posted on 09/06/2010 8:43:00 AM PDT by tiki
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: tiki
Keep in mind that, though the Anglosphere is in an economic slump right now, English is still the most globally widespread language for commerce and technology. For example, China is now embarked on a vast Free-Trade-Zone enterprise with Nigeria. (Link) I'll bet you dollars to donuts that they're conducting their negotiations in English.

So, no, I don't think they're into invading us yet. They're busy with Africa.

25 posted on 09/06/2010 9:02:36 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what's going on." William S. Burroughs)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: ClearCase_guy; VaRepublican
You may not have caught the news

No, I did not. I saw the reports about the Oval Office redo and the slogans around the border of the seal but I must have switched channels before the point you make came up. Thanks for bringing me up to speed because this is the first I have seen of it.

I never watch Obama's speeches or press conferences because everything he says is a lie and no one challenges him. That is very irritating and I had rather avoid it. The same is true of interviews with his flaks. I just change channels during those times.

VaRepublican, as I said, I missed the news and in my old age I am getting impatient and grumpy. "Just sayin'" is a rather recent cliche which iritates me for the reasons I stated. Had I been more up to date I would have gotten your clever meaning. Sorry.

26 posted on 09/06/2010 9:25:50 AM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o

For the record: neither Stailn nor Hitler were in the same league as Mao when it came to mass deaths — certainly not Pol Pot. Khrushchev starved (in the Ukarine) to death more people than all of Hiter’s “fine work” accomplished...


27 posted on 09/06/2010 9:41:42 AM PDT by PIF (They came for me and mine .. now it is your turn..)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o

Mao: The Unknown Story
by Jung Chang, Jon Halliday – Illus., maps

another fine book on the black slime itself.

http://www.amazon.com/Mao-Story-Jung-Chang/dp/0679746323/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1283790985&sr=8-1


28 posted on 09/06/2010 9:44:35 AM PDT by PIF (They came for me and mine .. now it is your turn..)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o

I figured I was being paranoid and my granddaughter really likes her. It sounds like she has had quite a privileged life although they are expected to work hard in school. She plays a 21 stringed instrument called the Guzheng and her mother always carries it for her because she doesn’t want her to hurt her hands and she is, of course, an only child. It will cost 1000 U.S. dollars to ship it from China but they are going to send it. They have 2 homes, one in the country and one in the city so she can attend school and come home every night instead of living at the school.
She plans to stay here for a year and then back to China for a year and then back to the U.S. to attend MIT.

She wants my gd to take her shopping and she wants to go to homecoming and the girls are trying to find her a date.


29 posted on 09/06/2010 9:47:03 AM PDT by tiki
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: PIF
Thanks for the link. Like Solzhenitsyn said (or words to this effect): for mass murder you don't need high tech, you can do it with barbed wire.

You can do it by turning off the water.

30 posted on 09/06/2010 9:49:17 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what's going on." William S. Burroughs)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: tiki

God bless your gd and God bless Nancy. I’d love to hear that Guzheng!


31 posted on 09/06/2010 9:54:41 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("You can observe a lot just by watchin' " . --- Yogi Berra)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: Mind-numbed Robot

don’t know why but I knew I didn’t to respond by starting out by calling you some profane name.


32 posted on 09/06/2010 11:14:15 AM PDT by VaRepublican (I would propagate taglines but I don't know how. But bloggers do.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: VaRepublican

want, meant to include want.


33 posted on 09/06/2010 11:15:25 AM PDT by VaRepublican (I would propagate taglines but I don't know how. But bloggers do.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: VaRepublican

You were being compassionate to the old and senile. :-)


34 posted on 09/06/2010 11:30:58 AM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: tiki

Most Chinese adopt American names to fit in. Ask her what her Chinese given name is. Probably sort of sounds like Nancy.

They usually pick names that sound similar to their Chinese name.


35 posted on 09/06/2010 12:06:31 PM PDT by dhs12345
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: ClearCase_guy
My grandfather grew more pumpkins than anyone else in our village!"
Then she started giggling and added "That's why they killed him."

Good anecdote. Brings three (3) things to mind:
1. Pumpkins and squash are very commonly used in the Chinese, and Taiwanese, food chain. Both for humans and livestock - pigs, goats, cows, etc. I have some growing in my small garden as I type this. Used in soups, baked, fried.
2. The laughter you mentioned is a typical sign of "more to come" nervous response.
3. For your above quote - "Nothing personal...its only business" is just as applicable to some periods of Chinese history as it is to the 'Good Fellas' that we Westerners know.

By the way...a lot of Sinophiles (Chinese apologistas) like to go on about the rich 3,000 yr. old tapestry of Chinese Culture as some kind of evidence of its 'higher evolutionary' status. B.S....a very good argument can be made that its just the same year repeated 3,000 times.

36 posted on 09/06/2010 5:30:01 PM PDT by Tainan (Cogito, ergo conservatus)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o

“You can do it by turning off the water.”

or the grain a la Khrushchev...


37 posted on 09/07/2010 2:54:02 AM PDT by PIF (They came for me and mine .. now it is your turn..)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: PIF
Messing with agriculture in a manner that seriously spikes food prices (e.g. with ethanol policies, water curtailment, credit and finance issues) is the one thing, more than anything else, that can, and should, spark open revolt.

Famine is hands-down the favorite tactic of megalomaniac dictators, even more than the noose, the knife, and the gun.

38 posted on 09/07/2010 6:37:31 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("It is the duty of every patriot to protect his country from its government" - Thomas Paine)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: Mrs. Don-o
Unfortunately, the Ukrainian peasants did not have guns, and by the time they knew what was happening there were so many dead, there was no one left to bury the bodies... 6 million is the conservative estimate of the number Khrushchev murdered.
39 posted on 09/07/2010 2:18:30 PM PDT by PIF (They came for me and mine .. now it is your turn..)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: ClearCase_guy
Years ago I worked with an odd Chinese woman who tended to laugh at inappropriate times (I think this may be a Chinese thing).

This is what my SO (who's Chinese) tells me is an apologetic laugh, as in, "I'm sorry to have to say this" or "I'm sorry to have to burden you with this knowledge".

40 posted on 09/11/2010 7:09:16 PM PDT by Zhang Fei (Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson