Roger Lipsey's new biography of Dag Hammarskjöld

Our nation is commemorating several historic and important anniversaries this year.  Especially mindful this week is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and a moral vision for our country set through the soaring words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It is well to observe another anniversary of international significance that occurred in  2013.  Sixty years ago, Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-1961), the Swedish economist and diplomat, stepped on the international stage when he became the second secretary-general of the United Nations.   Roger Lipsey has written the definitive biography of Hammarskjöld,  the diplomat, statesman, author, and one the world’s most recognized figures during the mid-century.

Lipsey’s book explores the personal and professional life of this very private man who held a  deep ethic of service to humanity–“a man of startling goodness.  His influence–or hope for his calming, reasonable influence–reached nearly into all corners of the earth.. ”

The author brings his readers closer to an understanding of Hammarskjöld’s spirituality and strength and integrity as he dealt with critical pressures and global issues in the Middle East, China, the Soviet Union, and the Congo.  Lipsey also draws our attention to Hammarskjöld’s encouragement of art and music as a way to lift people together to greater purpose.

“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,'” writes K.G. Hammar about Lipsey’s book.  Hammarskjöld: A Life, was published this spring by the University of Michigan Press.

The book most closely identified with Hammarskjöld, his own spiritual diary Markings, was published in Sweden forty years ago this year.  That will be the next discussion.