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“Hungry Ghosts” by

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Recent news reports of famine and death camps in North Korea forced me to pull “Hungry Ghosts” off my shelf. Written by Jasper Becker in 1996 (now in paperback), and subtitled “Mao’s Secret Famine” it draws much of it’s material off declassified documents from the era of Mao Tse-Tung.

It’s a well-written book but a difficult read. Becker recounts the years of Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” when China was supposed to outpace the United States in wheat production. When China couldn’t meet Mao’s outrageous quotas, well, let’s just say they were “met”…while everyone starved to death. Tens of millions of Chinese died under the most horrible conditions; Mao ignored anything outside his worldview.

I purchased the hardcover copy of this book six years ago and it still haunts me. It’s a hard read, but a necessary one. If you want to understand pure evil from the past (Mao) to comprehend evil in the present (Kim Jong Il), read “Hungry Ghosts.”

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About Eric Lindholm