Tombstone, the 1959-1961 Famine in China

In the Wall Street Journal, Michael Fathers writes a book review for Yang Jisheng’s “Tombstone”, a detailed account revealing long-concealed facts of the Great during 1959-1961 under Mao’s reign:

For the general reader, “Mao’s Great Famine” is unlikely to be bettered. “Tombstone” is something quite different, a condensed, yet magisterial 600-page edition of a densely detailed, two-volume Chinese-language account by Yang Jisheng, a retired Chinese journalist and Communist Party member.

[…] As a teenager in 1959, Mr. Yang watched his father die of starvation. Years later, while working in a senior editorial post at Xinhua, China’s state-controlled agency, he began his own search for the truth behind the famine. The author spent 20 years tracking down survivors across China and using his authority as a respected Communist cadre to access provincial . was, in part, expiation for his shame in not questioning his father’s .

[…] Mr. Yang concludes that Mao Zedong knew early on that his policies of extracting extortionate levels of foodstuffs from an impoverished countryside were killing millions. He uncovers the “arrest plans” and the quotas given to the police and militia for each province in dealing with those accused of speaking out against the and the regime. It was as if the quotas were political production targets. In 1958 province, a center of the famine, was given an “arrest quota” from the central of 45,000 people. Officials surpassed the quota with 101,000 arrests. Many of those arrested died of starvation in camps.

See more on Yang Jisheng and the Great Leap Forward via .

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