As the 1990s place greater demands on the UN, this inspiring biography shows how Hammarskjold perfected the active but quiet diplomacy that proved successful in a series of seemingly hopeless situations, from the Suez Crisis to Indochina, and how he stood up for principle against the greatest powers. Photos.
This is the first biography of Hammarskjold which draws on his private papers. Urquhart, a longtime U.N. official, indulges in a lot of eulogistic sentiment, tending to portray his subject's every action as unimpeachable - "From his earliest days as Secretary-General Hammarskjold provided an exhilarating spectacle of principle and intellect in action. His confidence, sureness of touch, and strength.... His quickness of thought.... His intellectual capacity and facility.... His learning and experience...." But the book finds firm ground in detailed exposition of Hammarskjold's diplomatic activities as Secretary General from 1953 to 1960, especially the account of his Mideastern tour and subsequent General Assembly moves, and his private negotiations within the frustrating confines of his office. Urquhart fully lives up to his professed disinclination to analyze Mideastern politics. When it comes to the Congo, however, he indulges in prolonged blame of Lumumba, whose speeches he inaccurately terms demagogic tirades and outbursts. This editorial license is consonant with Urquhart's effort to restrict himself to the view from Hammarskjold's head, without betraying the Secretary-General's prejudices. The book also mentions Hammarskjold's poetic aspirations, his religious-mystical dispositions, his solitudes, his belief in law-and-order, his "markings" - he seems rather like a T.S. Eliot without talent for irony. To fully appreciate Hammarskjold's skill as a diplomat one has to travel outside the book, but it provides sufficient documentation to make it a standard source. (Kirkus Reviews)