The definitive biography of Dag Hammarskjöld
After his mysterious death, Dag Hammarskjöld was described by John F. Kennedy as the "greatest statesman of our century." Second secretary-general of the United Nations (1953 - 61), he is the only person to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize posthumously. Through extensive research in little explored archives and personal correspondence, Roger Lipsey has produced the definitive biography of Dag Hammarskjöld. Hammarskjöld: A Life provides vivid new insights into the life and mind of a truly great individual. Hammarskjöld the statesman and Hammarskjöld the author of the classic spiritual journal Markings meet in this new biography - and the reader will meet them both in these pages. A towering mid-twentieth-century figure, Hammarskjöld speaks directly to our time.
“A monumental life, spiritual and intellectual more than purely biographical, of the great Swedish diplomat and author. Dag Hammarskjöld (1905–1961), writes Lipsey (Angelic Mistakes: The Art of Thomas Merton, 2006, etc.), was "formidable in his time, somewhat forgotten now." The second secretary general of the United Nations, he was also an author of note whose book Markings sold widely across the world--and, the author is careful to record, some 185,000 copies in its first six months in the United States. Lipsey makes a convincing case for why Hammarskjöld should not be "somewhat forgotten": His spiritual yearnings and conviction that the U.N. could serve as a vehicle for true Christian compassion may seem a touch arcane now, but his activist stance and equal conviction that all humans are indeed created equal lend the office and institution a certain nobility. Lipsey argues that, more than mere inspiration, Hammarskjöld, once a diplomat with an economic portfolio, brought useful specific ideas to the business of international human rights, among them the importance of sanctuary and his capacity for "lightning-like" assessment of unfolding crises. He died a half-century ago in one such crisis, in the Congo, where an ugly civil war was raging; Lipsey devotes a considerable number of pages to this conflict as a kind of exemplar of all the things the U.N. is meant to ameliorate. Another episode he covers thoroughly is of current interest again more than 50 years later, namely the flight of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese invasion of Tibet, which the U.N. could not satisfactorily resolve. A good and indispensable man, Hammarskjöld "understood and respected the need for heroes." In this lucid, well-written biography, he certainly emerges as one.” -- KIRKUS
“Roger Lipsey’s book is a fascinating literary journey through Dag Hammarskjöld’s personal and professional life. It demonstrates how his spirituality and inner strength were translated into penetrating analyses of world problems and, most importantly, into principled action.” – Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations
“...no one has sketched [Dag Hammarskjöld's] life and peacekeeping endeavors with such depth and breadth as Mr. Lipsey...He argues that Hammarskjöld's diplomatic skills preserved the U.N. as a beacon of hope through turbulent times.”
– George Melloan, The Wall Street Journal