“I call this book Tombstone,” the author, Yang Jisheng, writes in the opening paragraph. “It is a tombstone for my father who died of hunger in 1959, for the 36 million Chinese who also died of hunger, for the system that caused their death, and perhaps for myself for writing this book.”
“Tombstone” has not been translated. Nevertheless, rumors of its contents and short excerpts are already ricocheting around the world (I first learned of it recently in California, from an excited Australian historian). Based on a decade’s worth of interviews and unprecedented access to documents and statistics, “Tombstone” — in two volumes and 1,100 pages — establishes beyond any doubt that China’s misguided charge toward industrialization — Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” — was an utter disaster.
Read also “A hunger for the truth: A new book, banned on the mainland, is becoming the definitive account of the Great Famine” from China Elections and Governance.