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Who Killed Hammarskjld?: The Un, the Cold War and White Supremacy in Africa Hardcover – September 1, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hurst & Co. (September 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184904158X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849041584
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,020,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'[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 'Part detective, part archivist, part journalist, Williams schmoozed spies, befriended diplomats and mercenaries and won the trust of Hammarskjold'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 tortuous paths of Cold War intrigue.' - The Spectator '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 Hammarskjold, arguably the most significant and influential UN secretary general. ... What the book does very well, through extremely thorough research of an international nature, is to highlight the controversies surrounding the crash and the numerous investigations into it. ... this is an important piece of research. It should be read by all those concerned with the activities of right-wing politicians and businessmen and their links to mercenaries, intelligence operations and European economic dominance in the post-independence Congo; and by those concerned with whoever may have been responsible for Hammarskjold's death and the weakening of the UN.' - International Affairs 'Her [Susan Williams'] impressive probing draws together previously secret archived material and witness statements never before aired. The book is rigorously academic, with intensive referencing and quotes from expert informants, but it is also an intriguing whodunnit, albeit one with particularly sombre connotations,' - The Canberra Times 'The death of Dag Hammarskjold is a major historical puzzle: in this meticulously researched and gripping account Susan Williams has left very few stones unturned in her attempt to unravel it. After reviewing both old and much new evidence she makes a compelling case for a fresh enquiry with full disclosure.' - James Mayall, Sir Patrick Sheehy Professor of International Relations, University of Cambridge 'If you want to read a work of serious, well-researched history as exciting as a James Bond novel, this important book, which vividly conveys the tumultuous decolonisation of the Congo, is the one for you.' - - Gerard Prunier, author of From Genocide to Continental War: The 'Congolese' Conflict and the Crisis of Contemporary Africa 'A short, taut and highly readable account of Hammarskjold's death that suggests strongly that the Secretary-General was the victim of a conspiracy hatched by some supporters of continued white domination in central Africa. ... This is a rivetingly good read and is exceptionally well researched.' - Stephen Ellis, Professor of African Studies, Free University of Amsterdam, and author, Season of Rains: Africa and the World 'The book reads like a thriller, as the author pursues archives, interviews and thousands of documents to find clues to the murder of a man who, according to the British and Belgians, died in an aircraft accident.' - Jamaica Observer

About 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.

Customer Reviews

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Tal Carawan on October 1, 2011
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"Who Killed Hammarskjold? The UN, The Cold War, and White Supremacy in Africa," keeps fresh the never closed case of the UN Secretary General's murder in Africa.

No need to repeat the review material above, there is much here of great importance to world issues in both the 20th and 21st Centuries. I hope Amazon will include the entire title, so people interested in these issues may better find it.

I learned of the recent interest in continuing this investigation via BBC News and The Telegraph. The book is published in England and it is unknown when it might find its way to bookstores outside the UK. I hope it arrives throughout the world soon and is figured prominently, but this is the hope of someone who shares with Mr. Hammarskjold the idea that the UN should be devoted to promoting peace in the world and not catering to the political demands of the superpowers.

The once classified cables found on the Telegraph website are what compelled me to obtain and read this book as soon as I could. Understanding what was happening, how, and why, in the 1950s and 1960s will help us understand, and hopefully change for the better, the way political handlers still work today, who work behind the public front of government, to manipulate leaders for their own interests and financial gain, and in so doing deny the democratic process.

This book reminds us that looking beneath the surface is required for a free democracy to function as it is intended. Mr. Hammarskjold efforts to achieve peace and promote equalityin the world required great bravery and sacrifice, and to persist despite the risks. We need more such leaders, and to find ways to allow their work to proceed without fear of assassination or blacklisting. Such is the power of this book, to invoke one's spirit of fairness and understanding.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Pilscheur on October 24, 2011
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I couldn't agree more with Tal Carawan's review on Susan Williams, Who killed Hammarskjöld? This book is of enormous importance in not only historical terms, but equally in political, ethical and most general international terms. The vindication of Hammarskjöld and his legacy - and murder - is one of the most pressing issues of our time since World War II. Williams meticulously researched and more than well written work presents the true scenario in the Kongo during Hammarskjölds and the UN's fight against post colonialism and neo indurstialism, which made the murder and its cover up possible during the truly frightning political climate of the 60ties.
Another small booklet on Hammarskjold can be found only on the German and UK Amazon website: Dag Hammarskjöld, His Death, Legacy and Vision by Karl Amade. This, while by no means extensive in research like Williams book, comes to the same conclusion on the basis of facts which have been turned up over the last two decades... Thomas Pilscheur, Basel
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Pader on December 17, 2011
One needn't be an academic, or a historian, to admire and submit to this remarkable book about the cover-up surrounding the death of Dag Hammarskjold. Fifty years after his suspicious death in Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia) Susan Williams has uncovered a treasure trove of material that was apparently "lost", misplaced, hidden -- and invites us into the world of espionage, sabotage, decolonization, and the enigmatic end of the idealistic second Secretary General of the United Nations. It is a fascinating journey that comes together like the pieces of puzzle. Well done!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael B. Green on September 11, 2014
Susan Williams has labored long and hard, diligently and even heroically, to understand the death of Dag Hammarskjöld, whom she rightfully admires and reveres. Unfortunately, she writes and thinks as an academic pursuing every possible thread with equal vigor - and lack of insight and vision - and so has come up short and left her readers in a cul-de-sac. Instead of working as a good historical detective who starts with the most potent and well established evidence, and then pursuing leads and weaving inferences and conclusions from this base, she pursues obvious dead ends and disinformation that makes for a demanding, difficult, and at times impenetrable read. I apologize to readers of this review for not taking careful notes myself while reading this book because I (wrongly) expected a useful integration at the end; thus, my summary of some key evidence below is looser and less anchored than I would like it to be. I also ask the courtesy from readers inclined to heap vast praise on Williams, and to be offended by someone like myself who gives only measured praise and considerable criticism, to read this review in its entirety before deciding upon its merits.

The facts: Hammarskjöld's plane crashes a little after midnight on September 17, 1961 as he flies to Ndola, Zambia (then Rhodesia) to negotiate a cease-fire and surrender by Moise Tshombe, the new leader of the mineral-rich breakaway republic of Katanga which is supported by the UK, deep-state USA, especially CIA, vast mining interests, Rhodesia (which regards Katanga as a buffer state from newly liberated Congo) and all of white Africa that wishes to protect its wealth and privileges. His pilot notifies Ndola he is coming in for a landing but is not heard from thereafter.
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