A recent article in the Monthly Review (September 2006) by Joseph Ball picks apart the pseudo-science of the anti-Mao revisionist history movement:
Over the last 25 years the reputation of Mao Zedong has been seriously undermined by ever more extreme estimates of the numbers of deaths he was supposedly responsible for. In his lifetime, Mao Zedong was hugely respected for the way that his socialist policies improved the welfare of the Chinese people, slashing the level of poverty and hunger in China and providing free health care and education. Mao’s theories also gave great inspiration to those fighting imperialism around the world. It is probably this factor that explains a great deal of the hostility towards him from the Right. This is a tendency that is likely to grow more acute with the apparent growth in strength of Maoist movements in India and Nepal in recent years, as well as the continuing influence of Maoist movements in other parts of the world.
[I]n 1973-5 life expectancy in China was higher than in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and many countries in Latin America. In 1981 she co-wrote an article where she described the People's Republic of China as a 'super-achiever' in terms of mortality reduction, with life expectancy increasing by approximately 1.5 years per calendar year since the start of communist rule in 1949. Life expectancy increased from 35 in 1949 to 65 in the 1970s when Mao’s rule came to an end.
Monthly Review: Did Mao Really Kill Millions in the Great Leap Forward?