Murder in Samarkand - A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror Hardcover – 29 Jun 2006
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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)
An incredible true story of espionage, torture, high politics, sex and murder --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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. "
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Reads almost as fiction but is remarkably true as Mr Murray witnessed it. The story is written very open and honest, warts and all. Read morePublished 6 months ago by james thornberry
Not knowing before much about the functions of an ambassador, or Uzbekistan and how the politics game, I found this book fascinating. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Mat
An excellent autobiography. He was clearly bitter about the Government, rightly so in my view. An excellent commentary on the period, and the impact of American policy. Read morePublished 7 months ago by JohnatLoynePark
One of the most important documents of our time. It's engaging, surprising, beautifully written with engaging honesty and huge courage by one of the very few intelligent and truly... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Celia Fitzgerald
I am largely in tune with other reviewers that the book is indeed a good read. Compelling even, given my memory of what was drip fed about his goings on by the press at the time of... Read morePublished 13 months ago by GrahamH
A thoroughly believable and very well written memoir, giving a vivid picture of a colourful man and a close-up view the type of brutal tyranny that is so common in the world.Published 14 months ago by C. J. Watkins
Let's start with what I didn't like, and that was the insight into the lecherous tendencies of the author. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Florence
shocking, heartbreaking and draining. But a thoroughly worthwhile read that will shred any remaining trust you had in the way the world is being governed...now what?Published 17 months ago by Adam