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Bloodiest leader in history?

6/21/2012 • Ask Mr. History

Dear Mr. History,

Who holds the record for slaughtering more people than anyone else in history? Was it Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, Napoleon Bonaparte, Hong Xiuquan, Francisco Solano Lopez, Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin?


Dear Klaatu:

By China’s current admission, Mao Tse-tung is responsible, directly or indirectly, for the deaths of 49,000,000 people through political executions during the Third Civil War and his consolidation of power, the assimilation of Tibet as a Chinese province, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Various estimates by other sources have jacked that number up to as high as 78,000,000. Even China’s conservative estimate of his cumulative “errors” and “mistakes” puts Mao at the top of the list.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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