The Great Leap Forward was Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party Mao Zedong's policy of forcing China's vast but primitive agricultural sector to one suitable for the communist society he envisioned. Basically, tens of millions of already poor peasantry and farmers were forced into a system of collectivization that resulted in massive inefficiencies and that was enforced through incomprehensible brutality. Current credible estimates, based upon access to previously closed Chinese archives, describe the total number of Chinese starved to death, killed by disease, and tortured and executed at 45 million. Mao's effort at forcing the rapid industrialization of this ancient agrarian society while forcible restructuring the agricultural sector remains one of the most deadly and devastating periods in human history. That is occurred during the relatively modern era -- 1958 to 1962 -- makes the scale of carnage and failure of Western powers to acknowledge the extent of this man-made devastation particularly tragic. In fact, many Western, including American, communists and socialists defended Mao's policies and denied that innocent peasantry were being systematically murdered. That tens of millions of Chinese starved to death was entirely the product of Mao's vision and his capacity to impose that vision on a country of hundreds of millions of people.