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Spies in the Congo


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About the Author

Dr Susan Williams is a senior research fellow in the School of Advanced Study, University of London. Her pathbreaking books include Who Killed Hammarskjöld?, which in 2015 triggered a new, ongoing UN investigation into the death of the UN Secretary-General; Spies in the Congo, which spotlights the link between US espionage in the Congo and the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945; Colour Bar, the story of Botswana’s founding president, which was made into the major 2016 film A United Kingdom; and The People’s King, which presents an original perspective on the abdication of Edward VIII and his marriage to Wallis Simpson.


'To have found in the history of the Second World War a million square miles of unfamiliar territory- the Congo- is an achievement in itself. On top of that, her story is thrilling. Even the mundane details are delightful.'
*The Sunday Telegraph*

'Ms Williams pieces together her history in forensic fashion. The result is a gripping, if occasionally dense, work that uncovers a world long cast in shadow ... tells a little-known story, but one with a terribly familiar ring-and ultimately devastating consequences.'
*The Economist*

'[Williams's] new, meticulously researched book has shades of Graham Greene, a hint of Conrad, even echoes of Indiana Jones ... truly a thriller, in which Williams paints clear and sympathetic pictures of characters thrust into a totally unfamiliar territory.'
*The Guardian*

'Williams lays out in fascinating detail how several score US spies went about monitoring whether the Germans were gathering Congolese uranium and preparing to scupper them if so. ... Her account is nuanced but gripping and does a sterling job of delineating a complicated plot while at the same time giving a clear sense of the characters of the major players.'
*The Spectator*

'Spies in the Congo is an espionage classic. Scrupulously researched, it illuminates a barely-known aspect of arguably the most significant event of the 20th century, giving fresh perspectives.'
*The Scotsman*

'The US was determined first to ensure that the Shinkolobwe mine in particular wouldn't be able to supply Germany with uranium, and then to take control of its whole production. This is the theme of Spies in the Congo. It's a clever book, because it's based on almost no explicit evidence ... [Williams] analyses what little evidence there is, much of it only recently released, with great skill.'
*London Review of Books*

'A highly informative and valuable historical record.'
*Morning Star*

'Williams has pieced together the details of a story so enormous it seems incredible that most people will have heard nothing about it before ... a thrilling tale ... sometimes comical, sometimes tragic, but always riveting.'
*History of War Magazine*

'This is an extraordinary and fascinating story, revealed here with all the detail and pace of a well crafted thriller.'
*Alexander McCall Smith*

'Using recently declassified material, Susan Williams reveals the startling story of the small and colourful band of secret agents who jealously guarded this ore in a game of cat and mouse that may well have been the key to Allied victory.'
*Anjan Sundaram, author of Stringer: A Reporter's Journey in the Congo*

'The first book to tackle this important and overlooked subject.'

'Williams has greatly advanced our knowledge of the Allied strategic and atomic effort in the Congo as well the unique role of OSS in Africa. She has also provided excellent background as to why so much of the cold war played out in the Congo. Spies in the Congo is an excellent contribution to the history of intelligence, Africa, World War Two and Atomic Power.'

‘A very well-written book . . . a deep discussion about World War II geopolitics [which brings] these individuals, too many of whom died at a young age, to life.’ 

'Truly remarkable.'

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