Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Michigan Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
Table of Contents
Asked by a friend why and when I became interested in Dag Hammar-skjöld, I could find no beginning. There must have been one; I’ve walked with him for decades now, though I don’t imagine he’s noticed. He is long since gone. He was the second secretary-general of the United Nations, serving in the years 1953–61, formidable in his time, somewhat ...
This book has had and has needed many friends. In the United States, Tracy Cochran embraced the project early as both literary agent and adviser. Her unreasonable faith in the project and her publishing experience and fine intelligence have meant the world to me. In Sweden, my early and wonderful collaborator, Daniel von Sydow, translated Dag ...
1. Mr. Hammarskjöld
“You see,” he once said, “even a very small dent may lead to a rift, and a rift may lead to an opening and you may break in through the wall. . . . The interesting thing is, is this a dent which may lead to a rift?”1 He was speaking of the search for nuclear disarmament. A dent that leads to a rift is needed here also because Dag Hammarskjöld is all but forgotten. His star rises astronomically on special occasions and anniversaries, and declines until the next. Yet ...
2. Steep Swedish Hills
In nearly every young life the essential escapes. Family, education, friends, influences, and incidents can be documented. But the gifts and purposes deeply native to the person remain at least partially undisclosed until they deploy in the life and begin their work. This is obvious, hardly worth stating. But in the context of Dag Hammarskjöld’s earlier years it bears repeating. The conditions of his early life, though materially comfortable, socially privileged, and educationally elite, should ...
3. You Asked for Burdens
Hammarskjöld in Stockholm is a study in promise. The professional economist emerged, increasingly an expert among experts with ever-growing responsibility for issues of the national economy. Alongside and within him, the literate spiritual seeker continued to mature and question. As he often said, he was uneasy. His education was unfinished. Rapidly acquiring systematic professional knowledge for his new role in life, he toiled also toward that elusive ...
4. The Fire of Clear Eyes: 1950–1952
Strange to say, we can know more of this statesman’s inner experience in the years just prior to his election as secretary-general than we can readily know of his life as a government official. Much of his day-to-day work occurred behind closed doors and, while archival minutes may exist, the issues in them would for the most part no longer compel attention. He ...
5. Monastic Enough?
Consider two scenes. It is late March, 1953. Dag Hammarskjöld, known to few reporters covering UN affairs, has just been nominated by the Security Council as the next secretary-general. A UN press officer calls a hasty press conference to convey the bare essentials of Hammarskjöld’s background for tomorrow’s papers. He runs through various official positions—chairman of the Board of Governors of the Bank of Sweden, state secretary in the Department ...
6. Possibility Never Touched Upon
The process was a bizarre blend of systematic negotiation and jerky improvisation. Trygve Lie’s resignation speech in the General Assembly on November 10th, 1952, set in motion a diplomatic merry-go-round that revolved and slowed, and revolved again through late March of the following year, when Dag Hammarskjöld was nominated by the Security Council and quickly endorsed by the General Assembly. His election surprised everyone. He hadn’t even been a dark ...
7. This Little Republic
On May 9th, just one month after taking office, Hammarskjöld wrote a compelling report on the feel of his new life to close friends Leif and Greta Belfrage. “Of this [the UN] I somehow It remains too preposterous—both evil and encouraging. The Thou-Sermon on the Mount as a counterpoint. No, you cannot understand For the most part people have been incredibly kind and it has all gone well in a way I haven’t at all deserved. There is wind in the sails, ...
8. A Swarm of Ideas
The emphasis on ideas and attitudes in the preceding chapter could give the false impression that Hammarskjöld was functioning as a sort of Plato in the palace of the Sicilian tyrant—a thinker and preacher otherwise unengaged. That was of course not so. His political wisdom and practical abilities were engaged at every level, from entering for the first time into Middle East diplomacy to taking on a local New York tyrant, Robert Moses, over the grave issue of parking permits in ...
9. It Takes Life to Love Life
Something in Hammarskjöld’s year-end message offended his industrious Swedish gadfly, Herbert Tingsten. The classic photo of Tingsten—vide Wikipedia—makes him look like a heavy in a 1940s film noir, but that may be misleading. As editor-in-chief of a major newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, Tingsten could and did pursue Hammarskjöld throughout the UN years, all the while exchanging occasional letters with him and seeing him time and again in New York, ...
10. Un Chinois aux Yeux Bleus
During a New York season of their theater company, the famed actor Jean-Louis Barrault and his wife, Madeleine Renaud, were invited by Hammarskjöld’s French chief of protocol to bring their troupe to UN headquarters to perform Le Misanthrope. It was March 1957, well after the events we’re about to explore. After lunch à quatre with the secretary-general on the day of the performance, the chief of protocol turned to Barrault. What did he think of his host? ...
11. Causal Chains
For all its drama, the Peking negotiation was an elegant chamber composition marred only by occasional fits of coughing in the audience. The Middle East in 1956–57 wants some other description: always tumultuous and periodically violent, it drew into complex scenarios five regional states (Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon), two superpowers (the United States, the Soviet Union), and two European powers (Britain and France)—plus the UN. The region ...
12. Unrighteous Shooting Wars
The British Empire was, among many other things, cozy. At its height before World War I, and even in the less tranquil interwar period, there was almost always a recognizable scene no matter how distant from the British Isles: travelers could find high tea; civil servants and the military posted abroad lived in communities along familiar lines; businesspeople and high government officials found their own kind in exclusive clubs from Rangoon and Bombay to Cairo ...
13. Into All Corners of the Earth
It could be said in low language—for example, by Hammarskjöld’s colleague George Ivan Smith: “I think the concept of ‘Leave it to Dag’ was the farthest [thing] from his own mind. It was a political imperative . . . put upon him by people who didn’t know what the hell else to do.”1 And it could be said in high language—by U Thant, his distinguished successor as secretary-general: “It became a common practice, when any difficult situation came along, for the major organs ...
14. Face the Cold Winds
“I think the United Nations should face the cold winds of the day,” he said to the UN press corps at one of their luncheons.1 When Hammarskjöld returned to New York from Cambridge, cold winds were blowing. The situation suddenly facing him seemed like a Suez Crisis in the making with Middle Eastern nations in conflict and jeopardy, soon a murderous coup, abrupt Western military interventions, Soviet threats, a deadlocked Security Council, and an emergency session ...
15. Like Fighting an Avalanche
...“Blood, grime, sweat, earth,” Hammarskjöld wrote in his journal years ago, in 1954, “where are these in your world of will? Everywhere—the ground from which the flame ascends straight upwards.”1 His faith in ascending transformation met A long arc links the late nineteenth-century Scramble for Africa by European nations greedy for colonies to Hammarskjöld’s moment when colonial power receded from the continent. The scramble had been s...
16. Have Mercy upon Our Efforts
...“This has now developed into a [chess] problem. . . ,” he would write to the Swedish foreign minister in mid-March. “The Soviets have not even managed to convince themselves . . . that there has been . . . any lack of objectivity on my side. It is funny when time in this way, even among those responsible, eliminates even the last vestige of an emotional involvement in the coldly calculated tactical moves in so-called politics. I am afraid I am [enough] of an intellectual ...
17. Far Away a Heart Stops
...“This is excellent, if it’s true; but is it not too simple?”In mid-August Hammarskjöld endorsed his colleague’s skeptical wit, but he also had new hope that the crisis might wind down. Operation Rumpunch made sense to him as a step in that direction. By design it was forceful but nonviolent. Not a shot was fired; the show of ...
Afterword: The Spirit in Public Life
...“One with your task, whole in your duty of the moment,” he wrote in his journal in the fall of 1957.1 To this day there is a rush of good energy in these words, which capture his way of engaging. They are a mandate, not a description: for this he Consider other words he wrote that year: “We all have within us a center of stillness surrounded by silence”—this from the text distributed at the entrance to the Room of Quiet.2 These words whisper. There is ...
pp. Image 1 -Image 16
Abbreviations in the Endnotes
Acknowledgments to Rights Owners
Page Count: 752
Illustrations: 20 B&W Halftones
Publication Year: 2013
OCLC Number: 846992900
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Hammarskjöld