Education About Asia: Online Archives

Teaching Resources to Accompany the Feature Article “China’s Great Leap Forward”

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TO LIVE

MGM World Films, 2003,video and dvd release, 2007
English subtitles, black and white and color

Many insightful narratives of the Great Leap Forward exist that work well in the classroom. Although its scope is broader than the Great Leap Forward, the film To Live depicts both the enthusiasm and tragic consequences of the campaign. Directed by Zhang Yimou, To Live was released in 1994 under the title Huozhe. Although it was banned in China, it received accolades abroad and is readily available with English subtitles, especially on YouTube.

CHINA: A CENTURY OF REVOLUTION

Zeitgeist Studios, 2002
DVD, 360 minutes, English

Part Two in the documentary series China: A Century of Revolution includes a one-hour segment on the Great Leap with an overview of the disaster supplemented with eyewitness accounts ranging from peasants to officials on YouTube.

HUNGRY GHOSTS

By Jasper Becker
Holt, 1998
416 pages, isbn: 978-2844050342, paper­back

Chapter eight from Jasper Becker’s land­mark work Hungry Ghosts offers graphic descriptions of starvation and cannibalism in the countryside that contrast sharply with Mao’s decadent lifestyle in the same period as revealed by his personal physician in chapter forty-five of The Private Life of Chairman Mao.

THE PRIVATE LIFE OF CHAIRMAN MAO

By Li Zhi-Sui
736 pages, isbn: 978-0679764434, paper­back
Random House, 1996

For interested or advanced students, chap­ters thirty-one through thirty-nine of The Private Life of Chairman Mao gives readers a perspective of the Great Leap from within the highest ranks of the Party.

MAO’S WAR AGAINST NATURE: POLITICS AND THE ENVIRONMENT IN REVOLUTIONARY CHINA

By Judith Shapiro
Cambridge University Press, 2001
332 pages, ISBN: 978-0521786805, paperback

Chapter two of Judith Shapiro’s book Mao’s War Against Nature explores the environmental consequences of the campaign, including the mobilization of schoolchildren to exterminate sparrows.

SOURCEBOOK ON CHINESE CIVILIZATION

By Patricia Ebrey
paperback: 524 pages
Free Press, 1993
isbn: 978-0029087527

Patricia Ebrey’s Sourcebook on Chinese Civilization includes an English translation of Peng Dehuai’s letter to Mao.

These teaching resources accompany Clayton Brown’s article “China’s Great Leap Forward” in Education About Asia 17, no. 3 (2012): 29–34.