MARK COLVIN: The 20th Century brought forth many monsters; many of them are recognised as such.Read more.
Very few people have any illusions about the scale and atrociousness of the actions of Pol Pot, Stalin or Hitler.
But for some reason, Mao Zedong has escaped some of the disgust and contempt that most people retroactively feel for the dictators of the last century.
There are still shops selling Mao memorabilia, from posters and badges to copies of the Little Red Book.
But even if people think they're using these things ironically, how long will they be able to do so as more evidence of Mao's infamy emerges?
A new book, based on meticulous research in the Chinese archives, says Mao Zedong was responsible for the deaths of 45 million people between 1958 and 1962 alone.
It's called "Mao's Great Famine: A History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe", and its author is the scholar Frank Dikotter, of Hong Kong University.
The big numbers and the small details are simply mind boggling.
I asked Professor Dikotter; how do you kill 45 million people?
FRANK DIKOTTER: It's a large country but how do you go about doing that? The first step in 1958 is to pretty much declare, as Mao does, that every man, every woman is really a soldier in a giant army. And then you use that giant army in one continuous revolution, you deploy your workforce that runs in the hundreds of millions to tackle one task after the other; either working on irrigation projects in the evening, or smelting iron in backyard furnaces in daytime, or working on the fields.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Mao was a murderer? Who knew!
Forty-five million in five years... and research is still to be carried out for the period after the end of 'The Great Leap Forward", ie. post 1962.