July 1960: The newly independent Congo is hit by the secession of its mineral rich-province Katanga, led by Moise Tshombe and backed by Belgium and Britain.
June 1961: Dr Conor Cruise O'Brien arrives in Katanga as Special Representative of United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold, his task (under a UN resolution) to arrest and repatriate the mercenaries and foreign interests propping up Tshombe. The consequences of this mission will prove fateful for all parties.
This is the story of how a brilliant Irish diplomat found himself in Africa amid one of history's maelstroms. O'Brien reconstructs the complex, tragic, sometimes comic events of a drama in which he found himself controversially at centre stage. The result is history from the inside: a valuable study of 'the game of nations', and of the UN's unique functioning and malfunctioning.