Due to a sudden, unexpected passing in the family a few years ago and another more recently and my subsequent (mental) health issues stemming from that, I was unable to download this book in time to review it before it was archived as I did not visit this site for several years after the bereavements. This meant I didn't read or venture onto netgalley for years as not only did it remind me of that person as they shared my passion for reading, but I also struggled to maintain interest in anything due to overwhelming depression. I was therefore unable to download this title in time and so I couldn't give a review as it wasn't successfully acquired before it was archived. The second issue that has happened with some of my other books is that I had them downloaded to one particular device and said device is now defunct, so I have no access to those books anymore, sadly.
This means I can't leave an accurate reflection of my feelings towards the book as I am unable to read it now and so I am leaving a message of explanation instead. I am now back to reading and reviewing full time as once considerable time had passed I have found that books have been helping me significantly in terms of my mindset and mental health - this was after having no interest in anything for quite a number of years after the passings. Anything requested and approved will be read and a review written and posted to Amazon (where I am a Hall of Famer & Top Reviewer), Goodreads (where I have several thousand friends and the same amount who follow my reviews) and Waterstones (or Barnes & Noble if the publisher is American based). Thank you for the opportunity and apologies for the inconvenience
I really enjoyed this book! The author did a great job at introducing the reader to the conflicts in the Congo, how Dag Hammarskjold got involved in the conflict in the Congo and the investigation after the crash. I did feel a bit confused when the book did not end after the first investigation concluded, but was easily drawn back into the plot. Definitely a great book for fans of conspiracy theories, history, and true crime!
September 17, 1961, UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold boarded a plane in the capital of the Cong. Several hours later the plane went down in the jungle. I enjoy true crime and I was interested about this historic event that happened before I was born. I never knew anything about it. The author puts a lot of content in this book with so many moving parts. It was interesting, disturbing and well put together.
This was one of the most enthralling non-fiction books I've read in quite some time. I had coincidentally watched The Siege of Jadotville shortly before receiving this ARC so I was already primed for some of the subject material and eager to learn more, but even if I hadn't been, this book would have been gripping. It was clearly well-researched and the evidence and theories were laid out in a well-balanced manner while maintaining the intrigue at the heart of the mystery. I did feel it could have been slightly tighter, as it was occasionally easy to get lost in the myriad smaller players metnioned throughout, but ultimately that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book. Thanks to NetGalley for the gifted copy of this book.
I'm a sucker for true crime and historical books that aren't set in WWII, and this book did not disappoint. Though I don't know a whole lot about this time period, Somaiya's book was intriguing and had my attention until the very end. It's so easy for history nf books to get bogged down with details and start sounding like a textbook, but Somaiya did a great job engaging the reader from the very first page, and this read like a bestselling spy thriller. Would definitely read more by this author
Dag Hammarskjold worked for the UN and died in the defense of the underdog. Although his murder is still a mystery all that happened prior to it’s not. He had some very big enemies like the CIA, the KGB and many more from what I understand it all started when Belgium gave the Congo its independence and the New Congo military decided to treat the white people still in the country the way they were treated he was a big supporter of letting the Congo run their self having said all this there is so much more to the story FBI witness report of before and after a riveting the first half of this book reads like a thriller and the rest its aftermath and it all makes for a great story I think the author did a great job with the story that should’ve been told years ago I had never heard of the story as I was born long after it happened but I am glad I know about it now they have some nail biting tails in this book and it only amazes me to read about it. This is a great book and one I highly recommend a total five star read. I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher and I am leaving this review voluntarily please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review but all opinions are definitely my own.
I was very aware of the assassination of Dag Hammarskjald since the man had made a name for himself as the UN Secretary for many years. With unrest happening in the Congo between Western backed rebels and the Soviet aligned Congo government who were appealing to the UN, Hammarskjald traveled to the region only to have his plane shot down under mysterious circumstances, killing him and all on board. The whole situation has played out like a massive whodunit with no one ever definitively being named responsible.
Author Ravi Somaiya plunges into the politics of the time, trying to unravel the Cold War tangle of alliances with a narrative that runs like an espionage novel. The whole affair is fascinating on the front end with countries making bids for power and using smaller countries as pawns in the struggle with communism. What I didn't like is the book gets bogged down in itself sometimes in the tiny details of the investigation of the crash. And don't go into this book expecting an answer to be achieved. There were an enormous amount of players who would have wanted Hammarskjald dead for a variety of reasons, which when all the evidence is laid out there's still no concrete solution. The details are complex and complicated and the author does their best to explain everything making this book highly readable in many areas, but a bit of a muddle in some areas just because of the wealth of details that the reader is forced to sort through. That being said, this is the most thorough addressing of the assassination of Hammarskjald I've ever been exposed to.
Thank you to Net Galley and Twelve Publishing for the ARC copy
3.5 rounded up
True story yet it reads like fiction. Full of intrigue. Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book
This book investigates the death of UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld and the backstory/political context leading up to his death. I enjoyed this book. Although it is nonfiction, it reads like an exciting spy thriller and I think it would be engaging for people who think that nonfiction is dull. The political context in the Congo leading up to and after Hammarskjöld's death is confusing and twisted, but I thought that the author did a nice job explaining it in a way that was clear. Overall, a very well researched and interesting book. Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for the gifted copy.
Tough one. I'm exhausted. This was written by a reporter, and I think that made a difference. It was really difficult for me to follow the case. I can only imagine how many conspiracy theorists were revelling after the crash. Between the lies, the spies, and the missing documents the case may never be solved with current technology. DNA was not always available, and innocent people are being released from prisons. My thoughts are with science, and one day the truth will be told without any loopholes.
With that said, while this was over my head factually tracking names, etc., I think the story should be told and read. I suggest a quiet room, comfortable chair, the drink of your choice, and focus.
I'm going four stars out of respect for content, facts and reasoning, as well as an actual political assassination cover-up. This is not Law & Order.
Investigative journalist Ravi Somaiya hit this one out of the park. I believe there are enough threads here to possibly write another book. For instance, I was really curious to know more about MI6 agent Daphne Park. The story of her being such an outstanding spy but never rising to the very top due to her gender was fascinating enough, but more of her backstory would have been a worthy subject for another book.
At any rate, Somaiya paints a sweeping portrait of the broad landscape around the main character, Dag Hammarskjold. Hammarskjold is a pretty fascinating character, too. He is so idealistic that you can't help but like him, even if it is easy to see his demise because of his naivete.
Somaiya gives extensive background information to present the dilemma Hammarskjold faced, but he also brilliantly shows the complex nuances involved in real-world intelligence work. Should the CIA have mettled in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's affairs? No, but other countries were and did find their in roads as well. At the height of the Cold War, the Americans were deeply paranoid the Russians would beat them to the punch. So, they tended to go a little overboard. Not saying it is right, but Somaiya shows you all of the complexities that went into decisions that may seem simple on the surface.
Less than a year after JFK was assassinated, Hammarskjold died under mysterious circumstances while also promoting ideals of peace. I won't give away any spoilers but Somaiya does a thorough job in exploring this as well. This is fantastic work by Somaiya and will appeal to fans of espionage (such as myself), fans of the genre dubbed true crime and fans of great investigative journalism. Highly recommended. I will post a five-star review on Amazon and Goodreads within the week. Thanks to the publisher & author.
Beautifully written. Great character descriptions and storytelling. Just enough dry humor sprinkled in to carry you through an incredibly sad and disturbing account.
Fascinating and very well written account of a forgotten crime and decades of investigations that followed it.
I first heard about this stranger-than-fiction true story while watching the wonderful documentary film ‘Cold Case Hammarskjöld’ by Danish director Mads Brügger and ‘The Golden Thread’ is a perfect companion book. The author provides a detailed portrait of a very specific time and place: Kongo in the early 1960s, which was a hub for international spies and a deadly playground for all major foreign powers. In these circumstances it is hardly surprising that UN secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld, who tried to fix the situation and defend the weak ones, was seen as an obstacle to get rid of.
The author’s style is clear, witty and engaging - he weaves the tread of this complicated story skillfully and effortlessly. Recommended for everyone interested in geopolitics, recent history or just a good true crime.
Thanks to the publisher, Twelve Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book.
I must admit I know little of the former Belgian Congo and only knew one factoid about Dag Hammarskjold (Secretary General of the United Nations). But this intelligently-written, extensively (double down on the "extensive") researched true crime story of murder and mystery has provided a solid footing into the world of post WWII, and the post-colonial battlegrounds of the Cold War.
At the time of Hammarskjold's death in a plane crash, Harry S. Truman said "Mr Hammarskjold was on the point of getting something done when they killed him." And after reading this book, you realize that Truman knew what he was talking about. As the saying goes "I may be paranoid ... but that doesn't mean they're not out to get me."
And there's a lot to be paranoid about in reading this story of political intrigue and assassination. The CIA had sent an agent to attempt to poison Patrice Lumumba's toothpaste, for example, and there is a strong network of spies afoot here.
The author's strength is putting together all his research into a cohesive and understandable structure and giving us readers enough of a background to understand the implications of Hammarskjold's death. Exceptional book. 5 stars.
Whilst in the thick of negotiating peace with warring factions and trying to reunite Congo, UN secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld's DC6 plane went down one early morning in September in 1961. With so many loose ends left untied in Hammarskjöld's death, discernible even to the plain eye after half a century of his death, it's obvious there had been a coverup. Somaiya embarks on a mission to put together the missing puzzle pieces and tie up the dizzyingly confusing narratives that had emerged since then to bring closure to the case. Was the plane crash a sabotage? Whose hand was involved? CIA? MI6? KGB? Mercenaries? Was there a second plane involved? Or is it simply a pilot error? Somaiya seeks to answers these questions in this brilliant piece of investigative work that spans more than fifty years. It's important to mention here that there is simply no earth shattering new evidence to be unearthed in the case, yet Somaiya's writing is gripping and his research meticulous, hence what emerges is the tale of an earnest official who only wanted peace but caught in the crosswire between capitalistic greed and colonial interests in one of the mineral rich regions of Africa. Brilliant read.
Started the book with high expectations, and it does not disappoint.. Expertly told, fully explored from all angles, Somaiya allows the material to speak for itself. It's a brilliant reconstruction of what could have happened, with plausible and yet no definitive answers. A history of the region is vividly excavated, including the insecurities, ambiguities and shady alliances of the times. I am strongly recommending this to friends.
this was a really interesting true crime book, you could tell that the author did a lot of research and I enjoyed reading this book.
Espionage, Murder, War in the Congo, this book has everything. Somaiya masterfully weaves the story of the murder and cover up of UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold. You’ll get pulled in and won’t be able to put this down.
I have always been fascinated by the history of the Congo and of Patrice Lumumba. This book showed another event in history that has always been glossed over. It brought up the different theories and contradictions that this crime/event covered. It was very clearly written. I liked how the author chose to format the book. The information made sense in this layout. I appreciated the fact that the author included a list of key players in the front of the book so I was able to refer to that if I ever got confused.
This was a well written story about the mystery surrounding the death of Dag Hammarskjold--the former UN General Secretary. The author makes a convincing case that there's more to the story than originally reported. Definitely worth picking up if you are interested in true crime or the Congo's fight to free itself from colonialism.