cover image Countenance of Truth

Countenance of Truth

Shirley Hazzard. Viking Books, $17.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-670-83230-9

Hazzard's often shocking expose is political dynamite. She charges that Kurt Waldheim campaigned to become the United Nations' fourth Secretary-General, confident that details of his concealed past as a soldier for Hitler, implicated in Nazi atrocities, would be kept secret by the top powers. Waldheim, during his U.N. years, emerges as a pliable tool, both of the Soviets, for whom he performed outrageous favors, and of the U.S., quite possibly as an asset of the American intelligence community. To Hazzard, who worked at the U.N. for 10 years, the Waldheim affair is symptomatic of that organization's moral and political bankruptcy. She documents a secret agreement between Trygve Lie, the first Secretary-General, and the U.S. State Department, whereby applicants for key U.N. positions were screened by U.S. agents; hundreds of U.N. employees subsequently were fired or resigned due to intimidation or disillusion. Anyone concerned with the U.N.'s rejuvenation--or reconstitution--should read this book. 25,000 first printing; first serial to the New Yorker. (Apr.)