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Mao Zedong, The Human Comedy, Ashmolean Museum, David Grossman

Rana Mitter returns with the arts and ideas magazine - including a new powerful book which examines the rule of Chairman Mao and the catastrophic Chinese famine of 1958-1962.

Rana Mitter discusses the leader whose national legacy has now come to outreach the other political titans of the twentieth century: Chairman Mao.

The country he created, the People's Republic of China, has abandoned his economic principles and as a consequence soared to global wealth and power, but Mao remains a powerful icon. So how much does China really allow to be known about Chairman Mao's life and leadership, when so many taboos and so much censorship remains?

Rana Mitter talks to Frank Dikotter, author of Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's most devastating catastrophe 1958-62 and novelist Xue Xinran, who grew up under Mao.

Night Waves theatre critic Susannah Clapp reviews The Human Comedy at The Young Vic and talks about upcoming theatrical highlights for the new season, from John Simm's Hamlet in Sheffield to Kim Cattrell's Cleopatra in Liverpool.

Dinah Birch reviews the first exhibition in the recently re-opened Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, The Pre-Raphaelites and Italy

And the Israeli writer David Grossman talks about his new novel, To the End of the Land, a story about an Israeli mother, her son and the costs of war.

Producer: Timothy Prosser.

45 minutes

Broadcast

Free Thinking

Free Thinking

Radio 3’s new home for arts and ideas.