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109 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Telling the Truth for His Country
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...
Published on 11 July 2006 by BioDiplomacy

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
I finished reading this book just one day before my visit to Uzbekistan two weeks ago. I travelled for 10 days and interacted with a cross section of people, and I am glad that I read the book.

First of all, it is a police state. In many ways it was a much harsher experience than my visit to Leningrad in 1985. There is police everywhere, with their florescent...
Published on 13 Oct 2010 by MANEK SHERGILL


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109 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Telling the Truth for His Country, 11 July 2006
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This review is from: Murder in Samarkand - A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror (Hardcover)
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
discussion.
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
By 
William Podmore (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Murder in Samarkand - A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror (Hardcover)
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. Yet the Blair government, despicably, argued in the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords for its right to use torture material as evidence to guide security operations and to detain people without trial. Murray rightly holds that torture material is morally and legally unacceptable, and practically useless.

Further, the book's footnotes reveal that the Blair government has censored various details and names. It even threatened to sue Murray if he included in the book documents that he had made the government release under the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts. These documents are still available on the net, at [...] and [...]
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read, 11 April 2007
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Mr. P. J. F. Burrows "pjfb" (london uk) - See all my reviews
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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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64 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Because There is No Six Star Option, 8 July 2006
This review is from: Murder in Samarkand - A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror (Hardcover)
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth is stranger than fiction!, 4 Oct 2008
Murder in Samarkand. I read an article in the Big Issue and vowed to read this book. It is FANTASTIC. A man against the system...his desire to do the right thing and fight evil almost cost him to pay the ultimate price! As with the "sucide" of Dr Kelly, I am sure the Governent will never reveal the TRUTH!!! The WMD (Words of Mass Deception) used by "our leaders" to get what they want neither suprises nor shocks me.
The only thing that truely shocks me is the this book was everallowed to be published at all!! Mr Murray you are a star, Keep well and safe xxx

Yoda, Cheshire
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, brave, exciting, depressing, 25 Mar 2009
By 
A surprising page-turner from a man of rare integrity. I expected it to be another dark lumbering account of the world's underbelly -- worthy and necessary, yes, entertaining and often exciting, definitely not.

Of course there's no escaping the depressing subject matter. Sigh. It's a shame that the forces in favour of extreme centralisation run this world.

Murray's womanising will be off-putting to many readers, particularly not-so-happily-married wives!

Highly recommended. It's satisfying to know that purchasing Murray's books is a positive vote for a more open and enlightened world.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It also has its funny side ..., 29 Sep 2006
By 
G. Roussopoulos (Hindhead, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Murder in Samarkand - A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror (Hardcover)
Some reviewers have covered well the importance of this account in its depiction of the realities of US oil-based policies in Central Asia, and the inability of British governments to disagree with the US because of intelligence and other dependencies. Others have described the despicable conduct of the British government towards Mr Murray, and his personal calvary.

There is one more angle - hilarious chapters about the comic opera of diplomatic life, literally too when Gilbert and Sullivan is performed in Uzbek. Altogether a gripping read.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opener, and a great read., 1 Jun 2007
By 
sgeoff (North Wales) - See all my reviews
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A page-turner, informative and shocking. I already knew that our government was corrupt in many ways, and that Bush's "war on terror" just produced more terror, but was still shocked by this account, providing insight into Uzbekistan under a brutal dictatorship, the workings of a British embassy, and the lengths to which our own Foreign Office would go to stop an ambassador raising human rights issues which might embarrass hypocritical policy-makers in Washington and London. Very readable, even entertaining, and yet dealing with serious issues. Max Hastings wrote that the book "helps explain the moral bankruptcy of the Blair government" - it does that, and much more besides. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could not put it down!, 24 Jun 2011
When a friend bought this book for me I initally dismissed it as not my kind of read. The front cover put me off. But after reading the first page I was both curious and hooked! I could not put it down and devoured it.
The difficult and shocking subject matter is dealt with some sensitivity. Forget politics, this book is about how power can corrupt and how the ordinary person can make a difference. I would not say that this book changed my life but it has certainly had an impact and I am now a more active member of Amnesty International.
Read it - I dare you!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good read, 25 April 2007
A shocking account of the post-USSR Uzbekistan, but not as shocking as far as the local regime is concerned, but when it comes to Britan's external politics. A very exciting read throughout, I could barely put the book down. Craig Murray tells his story with humour and honesty. I definitely recommend it.
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