The years China declared war on sparrows (and how it contributed to the famine that killed millions)

  • phraseology
  • bbc world of news

image source, fake images


Masses of people rushed to kill sparrows.

“Between 1958 and 1962 China descended into hell.”

Dutch historian Frank Dikötter begins his book “The Great Famine in Mao’s China” with this forceful phrase.

Diköter describes the period known as “the Great Leap Forward”, in which Mao Zedong, the man who established communism in China, launched the entire country into a race to catch up with the world’s most developed nations, through the collectivization of the land and rapid industrialization.

Historians disagree on the number of people who died in the great famine that followed this “leap forward.” Estimates, before Dikötter, ranged between 15 and 32 million, but the Dutch historian considers that “at least 45 million people died unnecessarily between 1958 and 1962″.