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Tyranny of the Ladle

James C. Scott: Mao’s Great Famine

6 December 2012
Tombstone: The Untold Story of Mao’s Great Famine 
by Yang Jisheng, translated by Stacy Mosher and Guo Jian.
Allen Lane, 629 pp., £30, November 2012, 978 1 84614 518 6
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Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-62 
by Frank Dikötter.
Bloomsbury, 420 pp., £9.99, May 2011, 978 1 4088 1003 3
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The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and China’s Collective Past 
by Gail Hershatter.
California, 455 pp., £37.95, August 2011, 978 0 520 26770 1
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... was no longer a dining hall because there was virtually no food left. How do we take the measure of such a disaster? Who was responsible? Ralph Thaxton’s Catastrophe and Contention in Rural China, GailHershatter’s The Gender of Memory and Chen Yixin’s essay ‘When Food Became Scarce’ all begin with individual experience.* Thaxton shows in meticulous detail how the crisis fractured the ...

Untwisting the Pastry

Rana Mitter: Footbinding and Its Critics

11 May 2006
Cinderella’s Sisters: A Revisionist History of Footbinding 
by Dorothy Ko.
California, 332 pp., £18.95, December 2005, 0 520 21884 1
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... Culture (2004), suggesting that a ‘narcophobic’ modern state had created a largely spurious panic about the evil effects of the drug. Prostitution, too, has been subject to revisionist attention. GailHershatter, one of the most prominent historians of China in the American academy, suggested in Dangerous Pleasures (1997), that, while prostitution was exploitative in general terms, running a ...

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