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China and Orientalism by Daniel Vukovich

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4 Accounting for the Great LeapForward

Missing millions, excess deaths, and acrisis of Chinese proportions

Whoever says Great Leap Forward today says famine. It is surprising, then, that this catastrophe in which somewhere between 10 million (the current Chinese estimation) and 43 million people died has been so little studied. This enormous range of estimates - others have suggested as few as 4 or as many as 60 million - suggests something of the reliability of the knowledge about the Leap. But such is the powerful appeal of a massive number of deaths that the upper numbers have not only “won” hands down, but are repeated ad nauseum in academe and popular discourse. Thus speaks as well the power of the emperor's appeal - it is all narrated as ...

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