Who Killed Hammarskjold?: The UN, the Cold War and White Supremacy in Africa

Overview


One of the outstanding mysteries of the twentieth century, and one with huge political resonance, is the death of Dag Hammarskjold and his UN team in a plane crash in central Africa in 1961. Just minutes after midnight, his aircraft plunged into thick forest in the British colony of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), abruptly ending his mission to bring peace to the Congo. Across the world, many suspected sabotage, accusing the multi-nationals and the governments of Britain, Belgium, the USA and South Africa of ...
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Who Killed Hammarskjold?: The UN, the Cold War and White Supremacy in Africa : The UN, the Cold War and White Supremacy in Africa

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Overview


One of the outstanding mysteries of the twentieth century, and one with huge political resonance, is the death of Dag Hammarskjold and his UN team in a plane crash in central Africa in 1961. Just minutes after midnight, his aircraft plunged into thick forest in the British colony of Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), abruptly ending his mission to bring peace to the Congo. Across the world, many suspected sabotage, accusing the multi-nationals and the governments of Britain, Belgium, the USA and South Africa of involvement in the disaster. These suspicions have never gone away. British High Commissioner Lord Alport was waiting at the airport when the aircraft crashed nearby. He bizarrely insisted to the airport management that Hammarskjold had flown elsewhere - even though his aircraft was reported overhead. This postponed a search for so long that the wreckage of the plane was not found for fifteen hours. White mercenaries were at the airport that night too, including the South African pilot Jerry Puren, whose bombing of Congolese villages led, in his own words, to 'flaming huts ...destruction and death'. These soldiers of fortune were backed by Sir Roy Welensky, Prime Minister of the Rhodesian Federation, who was ready to stop at nothing to maintain white rule and thought the United Nations was synonymous with the Nazis. The Rhodesian government conducted an official inquiry, which blamed pilot error. But as this book will show, it was a massive cover-up that suppressed and dismissed a mass of crucial evidence, especially that of African eye-witnesses. A subsequent UN inquiry was unable to rule out foul play - but had no access to the evidence to show how and why. Now, for the first time, this story can be told. Who Killed Hammarskjold follows the author on her intriguing and often frightening journey of research to Zambia, South Africa, the USA, Sweden, Norway, Britain, France and Belgium, where she unearthed a mass of new and hitherto secret documentary and photographic evidence. At the heart of this book is Hammarskjold himself - a courageous and complex idealist, who sought to shield the newly-independent nations of the world from the predatory instincts of the Great Powers. It reveals that the conflict in the Congo was driven not so much by internal divisions, as by the Cold War and by the West's determination to keep real power from the hands of the post-colonial governments of Africa. It shows, too, that the British settlers of Rhodesia would maintain white minority rule at all costs.
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Editorial Reviews

Sunday Times

Lively and well written.

Spectator

Part detective, part archivist, part journalist, Williams schmoozed spies, befriended diplomats and mercenaries and won the trust of Hammarskjöld's still grieving relatives and UN colleagues to get her tale. She unwinds each thread of the narrative with infinite patience, leading us carefully down the torturous paths of Cold War intrigue.

Times Higher Education

this book, full of historical detail on the region's tragic transition to "freedom", will also bring the legacy of Hammarskjold, the great diplomat, to a new generation of students. Cooperating closely with relatives, as Williams did, runs the risk of producing hagiography, but Hammarskjold's bravery in not being intimidated by the political establishment is indisputable.

From the Publisher

"[Williams] has done a fine job of marshalling new evidence and painting a vivid picture of a past era of Rhodesian colonists in long socks and white shorts, and of cold war politics played out through vicious proxy wars in Africa."--Sunday Times


"Susan Williams' fascinating book explores the unresolved issues surrounding his death in a plane crash in central Africa. With the help of her engaging and no-nonsense style - part Miss Marple, part No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - we are led through the messy, ugly and secretive dark arts of decolonisation in a world of white supremacists and Cold War lunatics. Kids: don't try this at home."--Times Higher Education


"This welcome, and highly readable, historical detective story sheds yet more mystery on the sad fate of Dag Hammarskjöld."--International Affairs


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780190231408
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/15/2014
  • Pages: 305
  • Sales rank: 793,815
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Williams has published widely on Africa, decolonisation and the global power shifts of the 20thc. receiving widespread acclaim for Colour Bar (Penguin, 2006), her book on the founding President of Botswana. Other recent books include The People's King (Penguin, 2003) and Ladies of Influence (Penguin, 2000), as well as edited volumes including The Iconography of Independence: 'Freedoms at Midnight' (2010). She is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London.

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Table of Contents

Prologue

C. 1 Bebop-a-lula

C. 2 Congo

C. 3 Katanga and Rhodesia

C. 4 Mission for Peace

C. 5 Midnight Death in British Africa

C. 6 'They Killed Him!'

C. 7 The White Settlers Investigate

C. 8 UN Inquiry

C. 9 Zamia

C. 0 Big Business, Intelligence and Britain

C. 11 Cyprus

C. 12 Ethiopia

C. 13 The French Connection

C. 14 Hijack Hypothesis

C. 15 Aerial Warfare

C. 16 'Operation Celeste'

C. 17 Mercenaries under Apartheid

C. 18 Private and Military

C. 19 Secrets and Lies

Epilogue

Notes

Bibliography

Index

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