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Murder in Samarkand - A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror [Hardcover]

Craig Murray
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Jun 2006

Craig Murray was the United Kingdom's Ambassador to Uzbekistan until he was removed from his post in October 2004 after exposing appalling human rights abuses by the US-funded regime of President Islam Karimov. In this candid and at times shocking memoir, he lays bare the dark and dirty underside of the War on Terror.

In Uzbekistan, the land of Alexander the Great and Tamburlaine, lurks one of the most hideous tyrannies on earth - one founded on cotton slavery and brutal torture. As neighbouring 'liberated' Afghanistan produces record levels of heroin, the Uzbek rulers cash in on massive trafficking. They are even involved in trafficking their own women to prostitution in the West. But this did not prevent Karimov being viewed as a key US ally in the War on Terror.

When Craig Murray arrived in Uzbekistan, he was a young Ambassador with a brilliant career and a taste for whisky and women. But after hearing accounts of dissident prisoners being boiled to death and innocent people being raped and murdered by agents of the state, he started to question both his role and that of his country in so-called 'democratising' states.

When Murray decided to go public with his shocking findings, Washington and 10 Downing Street reached the conclusion that he had to go. But Uzbekistan had changed the high-living diplomat and there was no way he was going to go quietly.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing (29 Jun 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845961943
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845961947
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 451,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"I thought that diplomats like Craig Murray were an extinct breed. A man of the highest principle" (John Pilger)

"The Uzbek people know only one word for Craig Murray: hero" (Mohammad Salih, Uzbek opposition leader)

"Fantastic . . . [like] a very funny version of a Graham Greene novel" (Michael Winterbottom, film director)

"The actions of this brave and principled man have certainly exposed the "war on terror" for the sick charade that it is" (Morning Star)

"There is plenty of black comedy in this frank story of the disillusionment and downfall of one of Britain's brightest young ambassadors" (The Guardian)

Book Description

An incredible true story of espionage, torture, high politics, sex and murder --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
108 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Telling the Truth for His Country 11 July 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Few of us have done battle with a murderous dictator. "Murder in Samarkand" tells how a British Ambassador did so and survived, only to be stabbed in the back by his own government. The FCO's attempt to dismiss Craig Murray for invented disciplinary offences is an individual tale of injustice. However, the core of this gripping tale is of a studious, individualistic and patriotic Ambassador driven to take absurd risks in remote parts of Uzbekistan as he builds up a dossier of the brutal crimes of his host government. Those who try to obstruct him find the mild scholar is no pushover. He disputes the lies of petty bureaucrats. He storms into a corrupt procurator's office and dismisses him as a criminal - a risky way of exercising an Ambassador's "full and plenipotentiary" powers. But it works. The bully is exposed as a coward in front of those he has bullied. There is even a snow-shrouded car chase with Karimov thugs in pursuit - no wonder the film rights are under
The shocking part of this story - narrated with skill and candour - is that, at heart, much of the FCO agreed with the advice Craig Murray was providing from Tashkent. Dealing with human rights abuses is never easy. Murray knew his way around Whitehall well enough to make sure that a controversial speech critical of Uzbekistan had support from the human rights desks in the FCO and in the Department for International Development. But when the Americans complained to No 10 and this was passed on to the FCO, spines crumpled - from Jack Straw down. This book makes one both proud and ashamed of British diplomacy. There is a simple lesson for Blair to learn. If you ask diplomats who are trained to report truthfully, to tell lies, the lasting problems will come from those who obey you, not the ones who stick to their professional calling. "
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68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb attack on Blair foreign policy 29 Aug 2006
Craig Murray was the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004. He has produced a memoir of his experiences that reads like a thriller, vivid, full of incident, dramatic and funny.

As he shows, since Uzbekistan became independent of the Soviet Union, things have got much worse. There is far less personal freedom, and living standards have plummeted. The universal literacy and good roads of the Soviet era have gone.

Murray opposed the US-British policy of supporting the Karimov regime and its increasing repression, which, as he observes, is promoting Islamist terrorism. In doing so, he diverged from US foreign policy, so Blair decided that he had to go. As Murray quotes Oscar Wilde, "Anyone who tells the truth is bound to be found out sooner or later."

Murray dared to expose the regime's appalling human rights abuses, when Colin Powell told the US Congress that Uzbekistan's human rights record was acceptable. Yet there are 7,000-10,000 political and religious prisoners in a population of 22 million. Torture in Uzbekistan is `widespread and systemic' and `used as a routine investigative technique', according to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Murray shows how the Blair government accepts information obtained under torture from Uzbekistan, as it also does from Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. MI6 regularly receives this `intelligence' from Uzbekistan via the CIA. Receiving torture material, like receiving stolen goods, is complicity in crime. This breaches the UN Convention Against Torture, whose Article 4 bans `complicity' in torture.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read 11 April 2007
My wife and I spent a fortnight in Uzbekistan last summer on a Silk Road trip which was the inspiration for buying and reading 'Murder in Samarkand'. Much of what Murray writes we recognise from that brief journey: the roadblocks, the busloads of soldiers and schoolchildren in the cotton fields etc.

Like other readers, I am shocked at the dark heart of government in the UK, touched by his humanity and full of admiration for his bravery in the face of bullying and powerful officials (including those at the FCO....).

It is also a bloody good read!

My wife read it pretty much in one sitting and I too have only put it down reluctantly. It is a gripping story and he writes extremely well.
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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Because There is No Six Star Option 8 July 2006
My daughter bought this and I picked it up on the breakfast table two days ago. I just finished it - and it isn't a short book.

It came as a welcome surprise that Murray is not sanctimonious or knee-jerk left wing. Indeed he comes over as a kind of Graham Greene anti-hero, racked by guilt and self-doubt and painfully honest and open about the kind of stuff most of us hide. His outbreaks of laddism can be a bit sickening, and it is one of the most fearless accounts of enduring mental illness ever written. But he still comes across as a much better man than the cold politicos who drove him over the top, just as they drove David Kelly.

Readable, wonderfully written and scary about the horrible things done allegedly to protect us. Pity the photos are minute and the Enron letter reproduced at the front is small and illegible.

For anyone who wonders just how low New Labour can get, here is the answer.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating.
I absolutely love this book. Craig Murray's writing style invites the reader on an incredible glimpse into the life of an Ambassador, while highlighting some of the worst parts of... Read more
Published 26 days ago by ABC Tyler
4.0 out of 5 stars Bit of a let down.
Don't expect scholarship here. Readability is not bad and Murray is very self effacing. Very critical of the Blair/Straw regime of lies and double speak, which is no bad thing. Read more
Published 4 months ago by S. C. Liston
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars
An account of injustice that is both very personal and universal. Obviously what he's seen in Uzbekistan is just the tip of the iceberg. Perfidious Albion. Read more
Published 4 months ago by mmassyn
5.0 out of 5 stars A Controversial Tale From Our Ex-Man In Tashkent.
The BBC's recent screening of the David Mitchell/Robert Webb comedy drama Ambassadors prompted me to buy this book. Read more
Published 4 months ago by D. Forbes
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing.
A poorly written polemic based on unsubstantiated claims. Much of the book consists of tedious details of his arrival and stay in the countrywhich does not contribute to anyones... Read more
Published 8 months ago by H.A.Brookfield
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening
Having just visited Uzbekistan I found it very enlightening and thought provoking. Unfortunately I now have no faith in politics of any country. I couldn't put it down
Published 9 months ago by Ms Jane C Fletcher
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the better books I ever read
No-one expects an ambassador to tell the truth, but here is one that does., also about his drinking and relations with ladies he wasn't married to. Read more
Published 11 months ago by David Christopher Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just another book among many
I purchased three copies of this book; one of which I speed read myself. The importance of this book is simply the fact that those it authority were, and still are, well prepared... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Malcolm Bush
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the bext book I've ever read
An amazing book. Murray exposes the hypocrisy of the Blair government and the West in general as they lie about fighting for democracy while supporting an evil regime up to its... Read more
Published 18 months ago by 1895
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic and deeply thought provoking
Craig Murry's account of his battle for international recognition of the political horrors of Uzbekistan is always eloquent, often shocking and ultimately moving. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Anna_Bella
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