Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958–62 by Frank Dikötter - review by Jonathan Mirsky

Jonathan Mirsky

‘Livelihood Issues’

Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958–62

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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

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