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New Left Review I/31, May-June 1965


Conor Cruise O’Brien

The Congo, the United Nations and Chatham House

Catherine Hoskyns’s book, The Congo since Independence, is a scholarly and fair-minded account, based on an analysis of all the available documentary material, and also on discussions with many of the personalities concerned, of events in and about the Congo during the two fateful years 1960 and 1961. This is the first time that an attempt either in French or English has been made to produce a connected narrative of the complex events of these years and all students of the Congo and of the United Nations will be deeply in Miss Hoskyns’s debt. [1] The best general account of the Congo since independence hitherto available—Mr Colin Legum’s Congo Disaster—was published in 1961 and carries the story only up to the end of 1960. Even for the earlier period material available to Mr Legum was, inevitably, much less copious than what is now available to Miss Hoskyns, but Congo Disaster remains a remarkable tour-de-force and most of Mr Legum’s judgements and criticisms in it have stood the test of time. Such students will, of course, be familiar with much of the material on which she has worked, for example, the valuable annual documentary collections published by crisp—but in a number of areas, notably in the section ‘Constitutional Crisis’, dealing with the fall of Lumumba, she sheds much new light on her subject.

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