Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Brothers

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A Novel

by Yu Hua

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  • First Published:
    Jan 2009, 656 pages
    Jan 2010, 656 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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Beyond the Book

The Great Leap Forward
China's Cultural Revolution, which Chairman Mao Zedong formally announced in 1966, was a reaction to his earlier attempt, known as "The Great Leap Forward", to increase China's economic base by moving the country away from its agrarian economy to an industrialized one using the massive supplies of cheap humans rather than expensive imported machines.  The Second Five Year Plan, better known as "The Great Leap Forward", was unveiled by Mao in 1958.  As a first step, collectives across the countryside were merged into even larger "people's communes" so that by the end of 1958 approximately 25,000 communes with an average of 5,000 households had been set up. 

A cornerstone of "The Great Leap Forward" was the creation of small backyard steel furnaces in every commune, with ridiculously ambitious production targets. Feeding and stoking the furnaces took laborers and equipment from the fields which, in combination with poor ...

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