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Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013

Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine 1958-1962 (Farrar, Straus, Giroux), by Yang Jisheng

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Chairman Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” was a jump off the cliff. The ambitious, brutally implemented scheme by the Communist leader to reorganize Chinese society on utopian lines triggered a famine that claimed an estimated 36 million lives. Chinese journalist Yang Jisheng worked stealthily for many years gathering the research behind Tombstone, which debunks his government’s position that the famine was a natural event, rather than a manmade catastrophe. Originally published in Hong Kong to skirt Chinese censorship, Tombstone is the Gulag Archipelago of that country’s unfortunate Communist era, an indictment of totalitarianism and of the current regime’s consumerist dictatorship.