By ROBERT NOWELL
CONGO DISASTER, by Colin Legum (Penguin Special, 2s. 6d.). AGONY OF THE CONGO, by
Ritchie Calder (Coll:Inez. 16s.). FOR half-a-crown Mr. Legum provides a useful outline of the Congo, tracing from the first hloody beginnings the causes of the collapse of order and government that today threatens world peace and stability even more than when it began last July. From the first suggestions of independence -Professor van Bilsen's 30-yearplan of 1955, taken up eagerly by the Conscience Al ricaine grouphe gives us a detailed picture of the workings of Congolese politics and the Belgian failure to effect a smooth transition. To some extent, however, he bends over too far backwards in trying to be fair to all sides: thus M. Lumumba's . call for American aid at the start of the Force Publique mutiny can he taken as evidence of Russian influence instead of the opposite (if acceded to it would have given the Soviet Union a wonderful opportunity for propaganda, if not for direct intervention); and Mr. Legum seems to demand more of the United Nations than can be expected from an organisation which must, of its nature, reflect a divided world and can only act on a basis of more or less unsatisfactory compromise. But in general his book is excellent, impartial and clear.
MR. CALDER was asked to
studs. the United Nations' civil operations in the Congo their attempts to keep vital services functioning in a country largely denuded of its technicians. He presents a somewhat disjointed picture. each chapter covering one problem in one province: the lack of ready cash threatening unemployment in Kivu. for example, and the impossibility of administering justice without any magistrates in Orientate.
His book is a useful antidote to the despair that can easily arise from contemplating the political and military uncertainties that continue to bedevil the Congo: we are apt to forget how much worse the situation would be were it not for the presence of UNOC.