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on 20 January 2008
I suppose the author is not your usual diplomat, but that makes the book only better. The impressions that I got from my only few visits to the country, including the conference that author describes, tie very well with the picture painted by the author. Massacre in Andijan that took place after Murray's departure only validated his views. If I'm not mistaken, eventual US and UK criticism of Andijan events lead to US air base in the country being closed by Karimov. Sadly, in spite of Murray's signals, mass killing of people had to take place before US and UK realised that Karimov used their war on terror to brutally supress Uzbekistan.
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on 11 July 2006
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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on 12 December 2013
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. Comes across as if he wrote it whilst still blazing angry. It suffers for this, but, when you read it, you will understand why he is so angry. This outlines a political regimes utter disrespect for its diplomatic core and the insanity of a mysterious country. As a nation we voted for this and bought into it.
I'm so ashamed......
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on 4 October 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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on 25 March 2009
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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on 1 June 2007
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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on 13 March 2011
I read this book when it first came out, loved it and have recommended it to lots of people. Am now re-reading it. The only problem I have with it is that I did go through it not particularly liking Craig Murray because of his womanising. I guess he put this in as this is what he was accused of when he was sacked, and had to explain himself. But in a way this also made it more real and believeable if he was being this honest.
It was great to get in depth knowledge of what was going on in Uzbekistan at this time. As well as doing his ambassador work and smoozing with government types, he was also talking to 'normal' people there.

What he witnesses there makes you extremely angry and frustrated at the Uzbekistan and the British governments. Opens your eyes as to how corrupt out own government is.

What he says he does in the book is amazing and is what every ambassador should be doing. I can't help but think it's a little biased, but I hope that its all true. The fact he got sacked for the work he did there says something.

I went to see Craig Murray talk a couple of times after reading this book too. He is very passionate about Uzbekistan and the work he did there.
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on 4 November 2011
An amazing read. Craig Murray writes about his time as ambassador to Uzbekistan, and from his description of how the government treat its own people, nothing surprises: anyone can be raped, tortured, shot in the head, livelihood destroyed and lives shattered; it appears that the government that arose from the ashes of Russian communism has simply replaced one terrible regime with another, of a similar, if not worse, nature. Compelling reading. As John Pilger writes on the blurb, Craig Murray is indeed a 'man of the highest principle'. May more like Murray be bold enough and strong enough to stand up to tyranny.
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on 29 August 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. 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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on 2 February 2009
I found this book surprisingly easy to read and found myself getting through 200 pages in a day.

The book covers the human rights abuses of the corrupt Karimov regime including how they boil people for holding certain views; use rape widely and enslave large amounts of their population on cotton plantations.

It also shows how the US and UK overlooked these horrors for the support of the regime.

Craig Murray has to be applauded and thanked for standing up against the actions of the regime which do not belong in any society.
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