Tracy Wilson

Show Notes: The Great Famine

Missed In History: The Great Famine
Mao Zedong c. 1958, prior to the famine. Photo by Apic/Getty Images

Today's episode is part two in our miniseries on China under the rule of Chinese Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong. Last time, we talked about the Great Leap Forward, which was an attempt to both turn China into a communist utopia and surpass the economic power of Great Britain (and, eventually, the United States). The Great Leap Forward was catastrophic from several angles, and one of its consequences was a massive famine, which we discuss today.

A note: We do not do a particularly good job saying the name of head of state Liu Shaoqi in this episode. I found a much clearer pronunciation resource after this one was complete, unfortunately, so we (I hope) get it closer to right in our forthcoming episodes on the Cultural Revolution.

Our listener mail is a correction about our episode on longitude, as well as an email from Brianna following our Battle of Blair Mountain episode.

For more knowledge: How Famine Works.

Episode link: The Great Famine

To preview what's next in this miniseries: A Chinese propaganda poster showing Mao Zedong with peasants during the Cultural Revolution of 1966.
Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images

My research:

  • Branigan, Tania. "China's Great Famine: The True Story." The Guardian. 1/1/2013.
  • Chen, Qiangbing. "Excessive Investment, Compulsory Saving, and China's Great Famine of 1959-1961." Journal of Contemporary China. Vol. 20, No. 72. 2011.
  • Dikotter, Frank. "Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe." Walker Publishing Company. 2010.
  • Encyclopedia of Modern China. Scribner. 2009.
  • Gao, Helen. "After 50 Years of Silence, China Slowly Confronts the Great Leap Forward." The Atlantic. 5/29/2012.
  • Gray, John. "Mao's Great Famine: the History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe (1958-62)." New Statesman. Sept. 20, 2010.
  • Lim, Louisa. "A Grim Chronicle of China's Great Famine." Weekend Edition. 11/10/2012.
  • Lim, Louisa. "Recording The Untold Stories Of China's Great Famine." Weekend Edition. 11/11/2012.
  • Manning, Kimberley Ens and Felix Wemheuer. "Eating Bitterness: New Perspectives on China's Great Leap Forward and Famine." UBC Press. 2011.
  • Meng, Xin et al. "The Institutional Causes of China's Great Famine, 1959-1961."
  • Shapiron, Judith. "Mao's War Against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China." Cambridge University Press. 2001.
  • Xun, Zhou. "'Kitchen Knowledge', Desperate Foods, and Ritual Healing in Everyday Survival Strategies During the Great Famine in China, 1958-62." Asian Medicine. Vol. 7. 2012.
  • Zhao, Zhongwei and Anna Reimondos. "The Demography of China's 1958-61 Famine: A Closer Examination." Population. Vol. 67, No. 2, 2012.

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