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Frank Dikötter (/dˈkʌtər/; Chinese: 馮客; pinyin: Féng Kè) is a Dutch historian who specialises in modern China.

Frank Dikötter
Born 1961 (age 56–57)[1]
Stein, Limburg, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Alma mater University of Geneva
School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Occupation historian, professor
Notable work Mao's Great Famine
Awards 2011: Samuel Johnson Prize



Dikötter is best known as the author of Mao's Great Famine, which won the 2011 Samuel Johnson Prize.[2] Dikötter is chair professor of humanities at the University of Hong Kong, where he teaches courses on both Mao Zedong and the Great Chinese Famine.[3] He was formerly a professor of the modern history of China from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

Pankaj Mishra has described Dikötter's work as "boldly and engagingly revisionist".[4] This led to a public dispute between Dikötter and Mishra.[5]

Dikötter asserted the impact of the prohibition of opium on the Chinese people led to greater harm than the effects of the drug itself in Narcotic Culture and Patient Zero. These works have been poorly received by academics, with Chinese historian Kathleen L. Lodwick saying

Narcotic Culture appears to be one of the revisionist histories of which there have been several lately that have aimed at convincing us that imperialism wasn't all that bad, or at least that we should not blame the imperialists, in this case the opium traders who made vast fortunes from the trade, for the social problems they created. Closer attention to accuracy in the bibliography would have caught some errors, which appear more than once and so are not simply typos.[6]

He called for the rehabilitation of the history of Republican China between 1912 and 1949 in The Age of Openness. His most recent books Mao's Great Famine and The Tragedy of Liberation deal with the early years of the People's Republic of China and specifically the terror and famine associated with it.


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