Yang Jisheng (simplified Chinese: 杨继绳; traditional Chinese: 楊繼繩; pinyin: Yáng Jìshéng; born November 1940) is a Chinese journalist and author of Tombstone (traditional Chinese: 墓碑, pinyin: Mùbēi), a comprehensive account of the Great Chinese Famine during the Great Leap Forward. Yang joined the Communist Party in 1964 and graduated from Tsinghua University in 1966. He promptly joined Xinhua News Agency, where he worked until his retirement in 2001. His loyalty to the party was destroyed by the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, and, although he continued working for the Xinhua News Agency, he, in fact, spent much of his time researching for Tombstone. As of 2008, he was the deputy editor of the journal Yanhuang Chunqiu (炎黄春秋) in Beijing. Yang Jisheng is also listed as a Fellow of China Media Project, a department under Hong Kong University.
Work on the Great Famine
Beginning in the early 1990s, Yang began interviewing people and collecting records of The Great Famine of 1959–1961, in which his own foster father had died, eventually accumulating ten million words of records. He published a two-volume 1,208 page account of the period, in which he meticulously cited his sources to prevent the Chinese government from dismissing it. It was widely acclaimed as being the definitive account of the Great Famine. He begins the book,
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 book was published in Hong Kong and is banned in mainland China. In 2012 translations into French, German, and English (which has been condensed almost by 50%) have been published.
- 墓碑 －－中國六十年代大饑荒紀實 (Mubei – - Zhongguo Liushi Niandai Da Jihuang Jishi) ("Tombstone: An Account of Chinese Famine in the 1960s"), Hong Kong: Cosmos Books (Tiandi Tushu), 2008, ISBN 978-988-211-909-3 (Chinese). By 2010, it was appearing under the title: 墓碑: 一九五八-一九六二年中國大饑荒紀實 (Mubei: Yi Jiu Wu Ba – Yi Jiu Liu Er Nian Zhongguo Da Jihuang Shiji) ("Tombstone: An Account of Chinese Famine From 1958–1962").
- Tombstone: The Untold Story of Mao's Great Famine, Yang Jisheng, Translators: Stacy Mosher, Guo Jian, Publisher: Allen Lane (30 Oct 2012), ISBN 978-184-614-518-6 (English Translation of the above work)
- Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-62
- Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine
- "A hunger for the truth: A new book, banned on the mainland, is becoming the definitive account of the Great Famine.", chinaelections.org, 7 July 2008
- "Chinese author of book on famine braves risks to inform new generations" by Verna Yu, International Herald Tribune, 18 December 2008
- "Yang Jisheng" at the China Media Project, Hong Kong University, October 2007 (accessed 9 March 2008)
- "When China Starved" by Anne Applebaum, The Washington Post, 12 August 2008
- Jisheng Yang, "The Fatal Politics of the PRC's Great Leap Famine: The Preface to Tombstone," Journal of Contemporary China 19.66 (2010): 755–776. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10670564.2010.485408
- Mirsky, Jonathan (December 9, 2012). "Unnatural Disaster: ‘Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962,’ by Yang Jisheng". The New York Times Sunday Book Review. pp. BR22. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
- Reading Hayek in Beijing, Wall Street Journal.