BookTalkUNA presents


Join us for an evening of discussion with

Historian and scholar

Deputy Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN


The UNA-NY Annual Meeting
will take place before BookTalk




is held in conjunction with
the Institute of International Education

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

6 - 6:30 p.m. | UNA-NY Annual Meeting
6:45 p.m. | Presentation
7:30 p.m. | Reception and Book Signing

Institute of International Education
809 United Nations Plaza, Kaufman Center
New York, NY



UNA Members: FREE
UNA Student Members: FREE
Guests and Non-Members: $15

After 40 years, HAMMARSKJÖLD: A LIFE arrives as the definitive new biography of one of the 20th century's most enlightened leaders.

In this thoroughly researched work Roger Lipsey details the political challenges and personal crises faced by Dag Hammarskjöld, second Secretary-General of the United Nations (1953-1961), and confirms without question the once-famed diplomat's eminent place in mid-20th century history.

Through some of the grimmest years of the Cold War Hammarskjöld led the UN with visionary guidance and a cool head, bringing to his position a clear understanding of the subtleties and brutalities of power relationships, masterful skill in multilateral diplomacy, and profound awareness of the endless yet predictable varieties of human behavior. His life in and out of the United Nations is given a detailed examination from his childhood in Sweden through his years as Secretary-General, bringing fully to life a man who, among much else, helped resolve the Suez Crisis, worked behind the scenes to defuse a threatening situation with then-international pariah Communist China, counted among his friends author John Steinbeck, and appointed the African-American Nobel Laureate Ralph Bunche to be his undersecretary for political affairs at a time when Bunche would have been refused service at most southern U.S. restaurants.

Hammarskjöld practiced "engaged spirituality" before those words had any currency. Drawing discreetly on religious and ethical values as he met his enormous obligations from day to day, he increased the practical scope and intangible dignity of the United Nations. The institution acquired a fresh and realistic but profound voice, and its influence increased immeasurably. Always a brilliant student, Hammarskjöld took much from early Swedish mentors as skilled in illuminating the nature of faith as they were in describing the mechanisms of the world. As he progressed he found authors to whom he would turn over a lifetime (Blaise Pascal, Joseph Conrad, Henri Bergson) and religious sources that remained beacons for him — the Gospels and Psalms, Buddhist teachings, the Bhagavad Gita, early Chinese classics. He found as well the medieval Christian teachers — Thomas à Kempis, Meister Eckhart — who shaped some of his most central attitudes and aspirations. He had their writings with him as he traveled the world on sometimes outrageously tough diplomatic missions.

From these and others Hammarskjöld drew the precepts by which he did his best — it was a powerful "best" — to live and act. Writing at intervals, he confided his struggles and thoughts to a private journal, published after his untimely death as Markings. An immediate international best-seller and now regarded as a spiritual classic, in the book he examines the nature of service, of guidance, of solitude. He recounts the ways through which he learned to deal with instability, his own and the world's.

Not long before he undertook his final major mission as Secretary-General, the last of repeated efforts to bring order to the murderous chaos that overtook the former Belgian Congo during its post-colonial collapse, Hammarskjöld returned in his journal to his core truth: that existence is meaningful through an examined life of self-surrender and service. He practiced intently what he did not preach: he chose only rarely to reveal the depth of ethical concern, prayer, and self-scrutiny that gave him the strength, as he expressed it, to "preserve the silence within, amid all the noise." He pressed ahead in the Congo and at UN headquarters on what must have seemed at times the most maddening of tasks, until the day he died in a still mysterious plane crash en route to a meeting in central Africa, late summer 1961. (A new inquiry into the crash has been convened on the basis of the investigations of author Susan Williams.)

In this beautifully written account of a remarkable life, Lipsey notes that Hammarskjöld's "wisdom and methods, and focused verve in the face of difficulty, offer crucial guidance and inspiration for our time." His was a sort of leadership which the world has seen little of lately. Hammarskjöld: A Life returns him to our time, where his example and inspiration can be such a help.

Praise from Reviewers

"An important, brillaintly written book. Its wide selection of sources gives a masterful, true, and full portrait of Hammarskjöld. Lipsey's learned and wise comments contribute much to understanding the inner life and outward actions of  a unique person." Per Lind, Swedish Foreign Service and personal aide to Hammarskjöld, 1953-56

"An admirably judicious and comprehensive — and long overdue — study of one of the most remarkable figures of the twentieth century, whose presence remains both spiritually and politically significant for an age of violently confused international relations." Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College (Cambridge University), former Archbishop of Canterbury

"A monumental life, spiritual and intellectual more than purely biographical, of the great Swedish diplomat and author... A good and indispensable man, Hammarskjöld understood and respected the need for heroes. In this lucid, well-written biography, he certainly emerges as one." Kirkus

"No one has sketched Hammarskjöld's life and peacekeeping endeavors with such depth and breadth as Mr. Lipsey... He argues that Hammarskjöld's diplomatic skills preserved the U.N. as a beacon of hope through turbulent times." George Melloan, Wall Street Journal

"[Lipsey] opens the door to a deeper understanding of Dag Hammarskjöld as a possible guide for those who live and work in a society beyond left and right." Mats Svegfors, Dagens Nyheter

"A great book about a great man who must not be forgotten in a time which more than ever needs to see the footprints of Dag Hammarskjöld — the combination of wholehearted engagement in the world and familiarity with the spiritual journey inwards." K.G. Hammar, Visiting professor (emeritus) at the Center for Theology and Religious Studies, Lund University, and former archbishop of the Church of Sweden

"Political junkies and history buffs will relish this definitive, painstakingly thorough treatment of a great statesman and consummate diplomat." Publishers Weekly

ROGER LIPSEY, PhD is a scholar and author whose published work has steadily widened from a base in art history to concerns with spirituality and community. His career began with a two-volume edition of the writings of Ananda K. Coomaraswamy and an accompanying biography (Bollingen Series, Princeton University Press, 1977). He has been called the "leading authority on the life and work of Coomaraswamy" as a result of this monumental task. He went on to write The Spiritual in Twentieth-Century Art (Shambhala, 1988, now a Dover reprint)—a book adopted by many artists and teachers as a permanent, eloquent guide. In 2006 he wrote the prize-winning Angelic Mistakes: The Art of Thomas Merton (Shambhala). A director of the parent company that publishes Parabola magazine, he has given talks at the New York Open Center, The Abbey of Gethsemani, Dia:Beacon, and many other venues. He lives in Garrison, New York.

Ambassador SIGNE BURGSTALLER has been the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations since September 2010.

From January 2007 to August 2010, she served as Director and the Deputy Head of the Security Policy Department of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, covering international organizations (UN, EU, NATO/EAPC, OSCE, Council of Europe), international crisis management and humanitarian affairs. While in this position, between July and December 2009, she held the position as the Chair of the EU Working Group on the OSCE and Council of Europe (COSCE) during the Swedish Presidency of the EU.

She was assigned as a Counsellor to the Office of the President of the UN General Assembly at the United Nations from June 2005 to December 2006, working as Special Assistant to the President of the 60th General Assembly, Jan Eliasson. Prior to that, she was Deputy Director for humanitarian affairs in the Global Security Department of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, covering i.a. UNHCR and ICRC, from September 2003 to June 2005. A member of the Swedish Foreign Service since 1992, she has also held diplomatic postings in Prague (1994-97), Washington (1997-2001) and Pristina (2003).

Ms. Burgstaller received her B.A. in Political Science/International Relations from Denison University, USA and holds a Social Science/International Relations diploma from the International Graduate School, Stockholm University.


UN WEBCAST | 10 April 2013 | Commemorating 60th Anniversary of Dag Hammarskjöld's Inauguration as Secretary-General | with appearances by Ban Ki-moon, Sir Brian Urquhart and Professor Lipsey
A unique online resource exploring Hammarskjöld's political wisdom

Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation
Dedicated to carrying out Hammarskjöld's vision


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