Last week, the Hammarskjöld Commission released a 61-page report reevaluating the circumstances surrounding Dag Hammarskjöld’s death more than fifty years ago. Hammarskjöld, the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, was on a diplomatic mission when his plane crashed in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) on the night of September 17-18, 1961. While the crash was ruled accidental at the time, there has been persistent speculation that the plane was shot down by another aircraft. The new report pointed to the existence of “significant new evidence” surrounding the crash, but that evidence remains under “top secret” seal at the United States’ National Security Agency. Thus, the report remains inconclusive but suggests there is “sufficient evidence to merit further inquiry.”
A day after the report was released, The Nation published a substantial review essay of Roger Lipsey’s recent biography, Hammarskjöld: A Life. In addition to chronicling his diplomatic victories, reviewer Andrew Gilmour notes, “Lipsey also offers an in-depth exploration of Hammarskjold’s ‘other dimension': his intellectual interests, spiritual leanings and writings. He cleverly weaves into the story the intensely personal meditation that underpinned Hammarskjold’s activities on the world stage.” The Nation review follows positive coverage in Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, the Wall Street Journal, America: The National Catholic Weekly, Books and Culture, and more.
The full findings of the Hammarskjöld Commission are available on their web site; the LA Times offers a good summary and context. To learn more about Hammarskjöld himself, read Roger Lipsey’s Hammarskjöld: A Life in hardcover or ebook.