Blood on the Snow: The Killing of Olof Palme

Overview

The Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, a major figure in world politics and an ardent opponent of apartheid, was shot dead on the streets of Stockholm in February 1986. At the time of his death, Palme was deeply involved in Middle East diplomacy and was working under UN auspices to end the Iran–Iraq war. Across Scandinavia, Palme's killing had an impact similar to that of the Kennedy assassinations in the United States—and it ignited nearly as many conspiracy theories. Interest in the Palme slaying was most ...

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Blood on the Snow: The Killing of Olof Palme

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Overview

The Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, a major figure in world politics and an ardent opponent of apartheid, was shot dead on the streets of Stockholm in February 1986. At the time of his death, Palme was deeply involved in Middle East diplomacy and was working under UN auspices to end the Iran–Iraq war. Across Scandinavia, Palme's killing had an impact similar to that of the Kennedy assassinations in the United States—and it ignited nearly as many conspiracy theories. Interest in the Palme slaying was most recently stirred by reports of the death of Christer Pettersson, who was tried for the murder twice, convicted the first time, and then acquitted on appeal.

In his investigative account of Palme's still-unsolved murder, the historian Jan Bondeson meticulously recreates the assassination and its aftermath. Like the best works of crime fiction, this book puts the victim and his death into social context. Bondeson's work, however, is noteworthy for its dispassionate treatment of police incompetence: the police did not answer a witness’s phone call reporting the murder just 45 seconds after it occurred, and further time was lost as the police sought to confirm that someone had actually been shot. When the police arrived on the scene, they did not even recognize the victim as the Prime Minister. This early confusion was emblematic of the errors that were to follow.

Bondeson demolishes the various conspiracy theories that have been devised to make sense of the killing, before suggesting a convincing explanation of his own. A brilliant piece of investigative journalism, Blood on the Snow includes crime-scene photographs and reconstructions that have never before been published and offers a gripping narrative of a crime that shocked a continent.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"On February 28, 1986, at 11:21 p.m., Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was fatally shot while walking toward a Stockholm subway station. Jan Bondeson, a doctor, scientist, and investigator of unsolved mysteries, has written an extraordinarily penetrating book on the case, complete with a vivid minute-by-minute account of the crime as well as a detailed description of the failed police investigation and, best of all, a keen analysis of the byzantine political and financial intrigues in which Palme had been involved."—Edward Jay Epstein, Wall Street Journal

"Bondeson explores a variety of assassination theories that have arisen amid a botched police investigation, conflicting witness testimonies, and Palme's celebrity status. . . . Bondeson delves into the nature of the investigation and the uncertain guilt of the convicted killer—issues that have captivated Swedes and others for almost 20 years."—Library Journal

"Blood on the Snow is a melodramatic title, but the story of the 1980s murder of a Scandinavian politician so stretches skepticism and credulity that any sober, dry-as-dust academic treatment would have jarred. Jan Bondeson's involved, committed approach is the best way to do full justice to the complexity of an astounding case. . . . I doubt if the massively tangled web round Olof Palme's killing will inspire a more engrossing or a better-researched book."—Joseph Farrell, Times Literary Supplement

"Palme was a fascinating politician; an aristocrat and deeply committed socialist. He supported Castro's Cuba, thus guaranteeing he fell out with the US. He was hated by the opposition who accused him of everything from homosexuality to being a KGB spy so, not surprisingly, when he was murdered the rumour mills began grinding and a cycle of fantastic explanations and bizarre conspiracy theories emerged. In this well-written book Jan Bondeson attempts to explain why Palme was killed. The result is a non-fiction work that reads like a Tom Clancy political thriller."—Bruce Elder, Sydney Morning Herald

"The story of Olof Palme's murder and the many turns in the botched murder investigation is truly fascinating and reveals a great deal about Swedish society: the criminal underworld, the police, and social democratic establishment, and possibly, according to the author's own, quite plausible, theory, the arms export business."—Jonas Pontusson, Princeton University

"The murder in February 1986 of Olof Palme was a watershed event. It changed Sweden, forcing on it a soul-searching, and had an incalculable effect on the rest of the world. Jan Bondeson gives a lively and comprehensive account of the crime itself and most meticulously examines the fascinating ambiguities and inconsistencies of what happened in its wake. Blood on the Snow should certainly set us all thinking."—Paul Binding

From the Publisher
"On February 28, 1986, at 11:21 p.m., Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was fatally shot while walking toward a Stockholm subway station. Jan Bondeson, a doctor, scientist, and investigator of unsolved mysteries, has written an extraordinarily penetrating book on the case, complete with a vivid minute-by-minute account of the crime as well as a detailed description of the failed police investigation and, best of all, a keen analysis of the byzantine political and financial intrigues in which Palme had been involved."—Edward Jay Epstein, Wall Street Journal

"Bondeson explores a variety of assassination theories that have arisen amid a botched police investigation, conflicting witness testimonies, and Palme's celebrity status. . . . Bondeson delves into the nature of the investigation and the uncertain guilt of the convicted killer—issues that have captivated Swedes and others for almost 20 years."—Library Journal

"Blood on the Snow is a melodramatic title, but the story of the 1980s murder of a Scandinavian politician so stretches skepticism and credulity that any sober, dry-as-dust academic treatment would have jarred. Jan Bondeson's involved, committed approach is the best way to do full justice to the complexity of an astounding case. . . . I doubt if the massively tangled web round Olof Palme's killing will inspire a more engrossing or a better-researched book."—Joseph Farrell, Times Literary Supplement

"Palme was a fascinating politician; an aristocrat and deeply committed socialist. He supported Castro's Cuba, thus guaranteeing he fell out with the US. He was hated by the opposition who accused him of everything from homosexuality to being a KGB spy so, not surprisingly, when he was murdered the rumour mills began grinding and a cycle of fantastic explanations and bizarre conspiracy theories emerged. In this well-written book Jan Bondeson attempts to explain why Palme was killed. The result is a non-fiction work that reads like a Tom Clancy political thriller."—Bruce Elder, Sydney Morning Herald

"The story of Olof Palme's murder and the many turns in the botched murder investigation is truly fascinating and reveals a great deal about Swedish society: the criminal underworld, the police, and social democratic establishment, and possibly, according to the author's own, quite plausible, theory, the arms export business."—Jonas Pontusson, Princeton University

"The murder in February 1986 of Olof Palme was a watershed event. It changed Sweden, forcing on it a soul-searching, and had an incalculable effect on the rest of the world. Jan Bondeson gives a lively and comprehensive account of the crime itself and most meticulously examines the fascinating ambiguities and inconsistencies of what happened in its wake. Blood on the Snow should certainly set us all thinking."—Paul Binding

Library Journal
Whether or not the 1986 assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme can be considered "the crime of the century," as Bondeson (The Great Pretenders) asserts, its impact on Sweden's political life and social self-image has been profound and distinctive. Bondeson explores a variety of assassination theories that have arisen amid a botched police investigation, conflicting witness testimonies, and Palme's celebrity status. Adding to these theories, he implicates the Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors in a bribery conspiracy involving India and Iran. Acknowledging himself to be no different from the many Swedish "Palme detectives," Bondeson delves into the nature of the investigation and the uncertain guilt of the convicted killer-issues that have captivated Swedes and others for almost 20 years. Readers less interested in the book's central theme may find valuable its sheer detail concerning the police response. Recommended for larger academic libraries.-Zachary T. Irwin, Pennsylvania State Univ., Behrend Coll., Erie Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801479366
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 6/18/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 705,127
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Jan Bondeson is a senior lecturer and consultant rheumatologist at Cardiff University, Wales. He is the author of many books, including Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities; Blood on the Snow: The Killing of Olof Palme, The Two-headed Boy, and Other Medical Marvels; The Feejee Mermaid and Other Essays in Natural and Unnatural History (all from Cornell); The London Monster; The Great Pretenders: The True Stories behind Famous Historical Mysteries; A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities; and Buried Alive.

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