The Lumumba Plot: The Secret History of the CIA and a Cold War Assassination (HC) (2023)

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A spellbinding work of history that reads like a Cold War spy thriller--about the U.S.-sanctioned plot to assassinate the democratically elected leader of the newly independent Congo

It was supposed to be a moment of great optimism, a cause for jubilation. Congo was at last being set free from Belgium--one of seventeen countries to gain independence in 1960 from ruling European powers. Just days after the handover, however, Congo's new army mutinied, Belgian forces intervened, and its leader Patrice Lumumba turned to the United Nations for help in saving his newborn nation from what the press was already calling "the Congo Crisis." Dag Hammarskjöld, the tidy Swede who was serving as UN secretary-general, quickly arranged the organization's biggest peacekeeping mission to date. But chaos was still spreading. Frustrated with the fecklessness of the UN, Lumumba then approached the Soviets for help--an appeal that set off alarm bells at the CIA. To forestall the spread of communism in Africa, the U.S. sent word to the CIA station chief in Leopoldville, Larry Devlin: Lumumba had to go.

Within a year, everything would unravel. The CIA plot to murder Lumumba would fizzle, but he would be deposed in a CIA-backed coup and shot dead by Congolese assassins. Hammarskjöld, too, would die, in a mysterious plane crash, en route to negotiate a ceasefire with Congo's rebellious southeast. And a young, ambitious military officer named Joseph Mobutu, who had once sworn fealty to Lumumba, would seize power in Congo with U.S. help and misrule the country for more than three decades. For the Congolese people, the events of 1960-61 represented the opening chapter of a long horror story. For the U.S. government, however, they provided a playbook for future interventions.


Stuart A. Reid
ISBN 10:
Knopf Publishing Group
Publication Date:
October 3, 2023

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