Frank Dikotter explains Mao's Great Famine

FRI, OCT 8, 2010 (39:22)

Frank Dikotter discusses his new book, Maos Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958–1962. “Between 1958 and 1962, China descended into hell. Mao Zedong threw his country into a frenzy with the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to catch up to and overtake Britain in less than fifteen years. The experiment ended in the greatest catastrophe the country had ever known, destroying tens of millions of lives.” So opens Frank Dikotter’s chronicle of an era in Chinese history much speculated about but never before fully documented because access to Communist Party archives has long been restricted to all but the most trusted historians. A new archive law has opened up thousands of central and provincial documents that “fundamentally change the way one can study the Maoist era.”

+ BIO: Frank Dikotter

Frank Dikotter, chair professor of humanities at the University of Hong Kong and professor of the modern history of China at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has pioneered the use of archival sources and published nine books, from The Discourse of Race in Modern China to his latest book, The Age of Openness: China Before Mao.

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