The first proper history of China's great famine ... So thorough is his documentation that some are already calling Yang "China's Solzhenitsyn" (Anne Applebaum, author of 'Gulag: A History')
In 1989 hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Chinese died in the June Fourth massacre in Beijing, and within hours hundreds of millions of people around the world had seen images of it on their television screens. In the late 1950s, also in Communist China, roughly the inverse happened: thirty million or more died while the world, then and now, has hardly noticed. If the cause of the Great Famine had been a natural disaster, this double standard might be more understandable. But the causes, as Yang Jisheng shows in meticulous detail, were political. How can the world not look now? (Perry Link, University of California, Riverside)
Though a sense of deep anger imbues Yang Jisheng's book, it is all the more powerful for its restraint ... Tombstone meticulously demonstrates that the famine was not only vast, but manmade; and not only manmade but political, born of totalitarianism (Tania Branigan Guardian)
Tombstone is not just a history but a political sensation ... rich with details ... there is no doubting Yang Jisheng's immense political courage in compiling and writing it ... His book is not just a tombstone for his father and other famine victims, but for the reputation of the Communist party's leadership at a time when they should have acted (Rana Mitter Guardian)
I call this book Tombstone. It is a tombstone for my foster father who died of hunger in 1959, for the 36 million Chinese who also died of hunger, for the system that caused their death, and perhaps for myself for writing this book.'
The most powerful and important Chinese work of recent years, Yang Jisheng's Tombstone is a passionate, moving and angry account of one of the 20th century's most nightmarish events: the killing of an estimated 36 million Chinese in 1958-1961 by starvation or physical abuse. More people died in Mao's Great Famine than in the entire First World War and yet their story remains substantially untold. Now, at last, they can be heard.
Based on survivors' testimonies, this book was greeted with huge acclaim when published in Hong Kong as an essential work of reckoning.
'The man who exposed Mao's secret famine' Financial Times