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Murder in Samarkand - A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror Hardcover – 29 Jun 2006

4.7 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing (29 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845961943
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845961947
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 159,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"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

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: 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.
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Format: 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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Format: Paperback
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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