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Publisher's Summary

Longlisted for the Alcs "Gold Dagger" Award for Non-Fiction Crime Writing

Uncover the story behind the death of renowned diplomat and UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld in this true story of spies and intrigue surrounding one of the most enduring unsolved mysteries of the 20th century.  

On September 17, 1961, Dag Hammarskjöld boarded a Douglas DC6 propeller plane on the sweltering tarmac of the airport in Leopoldville, the capital of the Congo. Hours later, he would be found dead in an African jungle with an ace of spades playing card placed on his body. Hammarskjöld had been the head of the United Nations for nine years. He was legendary for his dedication to peace on Earth. 

But dark forces circled him: Powerful and connected groups from an array of nations and organizations — including the CIA, the KGB, underground militant groups, business tycoons, and others — were determined to see Hammarskjöld fail. 

A riveting work of investigative journalism based on never-before-seen evidence, recently revealed firsthand accounts, and groundbreaking new interviews, The Golden Thread reveals the truth behind one of the great murder mysteries of the Cold War.

©2020 Ravi Somaiya (P)2020 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"[An] impressive debut.... This is an eye-opening account that could lead to renewed public interest in this tragedy." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

"Ravi Somaiya's brilliant unwrapping of the mystery surrounding Hammarskjold's death will convert the reader into an avid investigator the moment they pick up this book! A compelling read - filled with revelations and written in a style that's clean and fast-paced, THE GOLDEN THREAD also raises key questions before governments who still act suspiciously: Why? What are you hiding exactly? At its heart, the book lays bare not only Hammarskjold's undoubted heroism and the sad realities of the Congo in the 1960s (many features of which regrettably persist to this day), but also the stark dilemmas that beset the UN, when principle falls neatly into the cross-hairs of power." (Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, UN human rights chief (2014-2018) and UN peacekeeper (1994-1996))

"THE GOLDEN THREAD is as exciting as the best spy novels, with the enormous advantage of being completely true. Ravi Somaiya masterfully teases out the tangled strands of a Cold War mystery in a place where nothing and no one are quite what they seem. The result is a gripping book by a gifted writer and a dogged investigator." (Mitchell Zuckoff, number one New York Times best-selling author of 13 Hours and Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11)

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

More intrigue in the Congo

An interesting account of an unfortunately mostly forgotten tragedy, and the likelihood that it may not merely have been an accident. There is a lot of backstory of the Congo, political machinations, and resistance to decolonization. Though it pads out a story which is probably not enough to fill seven plus hours, it does provide significant context and lays out the case for any number of reasons why a U.N. Secretary General might have been killed, intentionally or otherwise.

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Interesting unsolved mystery but repetitive

This was interesting, especially after the background history was done and the crash related. But the various inquiries into the crash and their dead ends started to feel repetitive. Not exactly sure how the author could have streamlined that without skimping on important details, so I'm not faulting the author just stating how it started to feel by the end.