The Golden Thread: The Cold War and the Mysterious Death of Dag Hammarskjöld

Twelve: Grand Central. Jul. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781455536542. $28. CRIME
Equal parts true crime, spy thriller, and work of international political intrigue, this thought-provoking work explores the death of Dag Hammarskjöld, a Swedish diplomat and the second secretary general of the United Nations. In 1961, Hammarskjöld’s DC-6 plane crashed in Northern Rhodesia while he was on his way to engage in cease-fire negotiations during the Congo Crisis. A variety of theories have emerged as to why the plane went down, from a simple accident on the part of the pilot to KGB involvement. Journalist Somaiya sorts through a tangled web of conspiracy to identify what investigators dubbed “the golden thread”—the most likely chain of events that led to the plane crash. Though official confirmation remains tantalizingly out of reach, Somaiya and the individuals he covers zero in on the developments that likely brought down the plane, Hammarskjöld, and the majority of those traveling with him. Readers will also get a strong grounding in local and regional politics in the Republic of the Congo and the international interests and Cold War pressures brought to bear on the local crisis.
VERDICT Fans of novelists such as Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum, as well as military history and true crime enthusiasts, will find much to enjoy about this riveting read.
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