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Dag Hammarskjöld outside the United Nations, eight years before he was killed.

The Golden Thread: The Cold War and the Mysterious Death of Dag Hammarskjöld by Ravi Somaiya

This year of global crises and massive upheaval is also the year for official solutions to infamous unsolved crimes. In June alone, Portuguese authorities named a viable suspect in the 2007 disappearance of four-year-old Madeline McCann, and the Swedish government shocked its citizens by closing the books on the 1986 assassination of Prime Minister Olof Palme, announcing Stig Engstrom, a graphic designer who died by suicide in 2000, as the culprit. Now a new book by the journalist Ravi Somaiya probes an even older mystery: was the plane crash that killed U.N. secretary-general Dag Hammarskjöld in September 1961 a result of pilot error, or something more like murder? And if it was murder, who had it in for Hammarskjöld?

As The Golden Thread, Somaiya’s first book, examines in painstaking detail, foul play is a far likelier conclusion than tragic accident. It is, as Somaiya writes in his author’s note, “a story with so many twists, and so many duplicitous characters, that unraveling it drove me nearly to madness.”

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