After I finished reading Yang Jisheng’s book, Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine 1958-1962, an extensive analysis on the worst man-made calamity in human history, I couldn’t help but wonder: If Yang’s book were required reading for American college students, would so many young people embrace socialism so enthusiastically?
Yang opens the book with his father’s death in 1959. It was April, and Yang was a high school student. Since his school was far from the village where his father lived, Yang rarely saw his father during the school year. One day, a villager brought Yang the dreadful message—his father was dying of starvation. Yang rushed home. He found utter destitution.
The village felt like a ghost town. There were no animals running around, not even rats, and no living trees either. “All had been stripped of their leaves and bark by starving peasants,” he records. People ate whatever they could get their hands on, and when they were not