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The Lumumba Plot: The Secret History of the CIA and a Cold War Assassination

October 11, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Stuart A. Reid, author of The Lumumba Plot: The Secret History of the CIA and a Cold War Assassination, joins us to discuss his upcoming book uncovering the truth behind the U.S.-sanctioned assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the democratically elected leader of a newly independent Congo.

The Lumumba Plot is a page-turning spy thriller and a deeply researched historical account of a now-forgotten Cold War moment and a low point in U.S. foreign policy.

Moderated by Jim Falk, Global Santa Fe’s Program Chair.

In partnership with Global Santa Fe, the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville, the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations, the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth, and the Colorado Springs World Affairs Council.

The Details:

When: Wednesday, October 11th | 7:00 PM
Where: Zoom Webinar
Registration: Free, required | RSVP here

The Book

The Lumumba Plot: The Secret History of the CIA and a Cold War Assassination

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.

Preorder The Lumumba Plot online here.

About the Author

Stuart A. Reid is an executive editor of Foreign Affairs. He has written for The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg Businessweek, Politico Magazine, Slate, and other publications. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and daughter.

About the Moderator

Jim Falk, President Emeritus of the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth, retired in March 2021 after serving as the organization’s president since 2001. Now residing in Santa Fe, New Mexico he is member of the Board of Global Santa Fe where he chairs the program committee. Jim co-hosts Perspectives Matter, a McCuistion Program, that airs weekly on KERA-Dallas (PBS). He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and honorary consul of Morocco.

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