Skip to main content

Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962

About the Book

Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962

The much-anticipated definitive account of China’s Great Famine  

An estimated 36 million Chinese men, women, and children starved to death during China’s Great Leap Forward in the late 1950s and early ’60s. One of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century, the famine is poorly understood, and in China is still euphemistically referred to as “the three years of natural disaster.”

As a journalist with privileged access to official and unofficial sources, Yang Jisheng spent 20 years piecing together the events that led to mass nationwide starvation, including the death of his own father. Finding no natural causes, Yang attributes responsibility for the deaths to China’s totalitarian system and the refusal of officials at every level to value human life over ideology and self-interest.

TOMBSTONE is a testament to inhumanity and occasional heroism that pits collective memory against the historical amnesia imposed by those in power. Stunning in scale and arresting in its detailed account of the staggering human cost of this tragedy, TOMBSTONE is written both as a memorial to the lives lost --- an enduring tombstone in memory of the dead --- and in hopeful anticipation of the final demise of the totalitarian system.

Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962
by Yang Jisheng and Edward Friedman

  • Publication Date: November 19, 2013
  • Genres: History, Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • ISBN-10: 0374533997
  • ISBN-13: 9780374533991