Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China, is technically the greatest mass murderer in history. In 1958, Mao brought forth (and ruthlessly enforced) “The Great Leap Forward,” which was a plan to catch China up to the economy of the western world. Unfortunately, this plan came with mass famine, starvation, torture, and systematic violence, which included making people work nude in the dead of winter, and parents burying their own children alive. All told, 45 million people died during Mao’s reign, a body count that remains unmatched by any other historical despot.
But the guy just loved poetry. Chairman Mao – though he persecuted many Chinese writers and had countless books burned – was an avid reader, as well as a bit of a writer. He wrote over 30 poems, usually in the format of the ancient Chinese style. Ironically, he would have forbidden one billion people from every reading his work, due to his principles, but who isn’t self-conscious about their poetry?