"The worst catastrophe in China’s history, and one of the worst anywhere, was the Great Famine of 1958 to 1962, and to this day the ruling Communist Party has not fully acknowledged the degree to which it was a direct result of the forcible herding of villagers into communes under the “Great Leap Forward” that Mao Zedong launched in 1958.
To this day, the party attempts to cover up the disaster, usually by blaming the weather. Yet detailed records of the horror exist in the party’s own national and local archives.
Historians have known for some time that the Great Leap Forward resulted in one of the world’s worst famines. Demographers have used official census figures to estimate that some 20 to 30 million people died.
In all, the records I studied suggest that the Great Leap Forward was responsible for at least 45 million deaths."