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Murder in Samarkand: A British Ambassador's…
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Murder in Samarkand: A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of… (2006)

by Craig Murray

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Dear Craig

Before embarking on your new book, I took your earlier one down from my shelves where it had somehow escaped my attention. Well, what can a former ambassador tell me about a far-away country of which I know nothing? Rather a lot, it turns out: I found it engrossing, gripping in the best tradition of Fitzroy Maclean, read it through almost at one sitting (more accurately, lying down; I’m in the grip of la grippe and scarcely capable of anything else). I was moved by the suffering you saw there and your own trials and tribulations.
Only one correction i can suggest for when the book is reprinted in your Collected Works: AL KHOREZM is the father of the algorithm (as the sound suggests), not of algebra (which is simply the Arabic for “broken parts” or something similar).
And talking of Maclean, and to show that I read right through to your footnotes, what has the Bonnie Prince to do with guerrilla warfare? An irregular army perhaps, but they fought conventional set-piece battles. The Man of the Mountains has to be Montrose, so effective in the Stuart cause, only to be let down by them at the end.

Be interested to talk to you about the ambassador’s role when we next meet. I mean, isn’t an ambassador meant to be a stuffed shirt who agrees with everybody?

All the best and look forward to getting stuck into Sikunder

Vincent ( )
  vguy | Nov 25, 2016 |
A remarkable book. The dry wit and wry humour remind me of Lawrence Durrell's Esprit de Court, a generation earlier. The pleasure this book is to read contrasts sharply with the tale of amn trying to do his bit fighting against the War on Terror scenario from the inside out and his career crashing and burning as a result. It's a sad and enlightening indictment on our government. ( )
  mumfie | May 19, 2016 |
Uzbekistan features in “Murder in Samarkand” (2006), written by maverick, and therefor former, British ambassador Craig Murray. Mr. Murray’s message, about continuing Uzbek human right abuse, condoned by Western allies in the War on Terror because of Uzbekistan’s strategic position next to Afghanistan, is something we can all sympathize with. His exposure of a dictatorial regime that wrecks any economic progress for personal gain is also a subject worthy of attention, and if Mr. Murray would have focused on these two themes, and the way Western governments ignored their own principles in the case of Uzbekistan, his would have been a very powerful narrative. Unfortunately, Mr. Murray uses the book to show one side only – his side - of the battle he fought with his employer, the British foreign office, a battle he lost, because his job as an ambassador is to promote British government views and British policy, not his own – however genuine and well-meant his own views may be. On top of that, Mr Murray is quite full of himself, which at times is quite irritating, and he also needs to comment on most women by describing them physically – pretty girl, great bum, beautiful body -, which is even more irritating, and totally unnecessary. In fact, he paints himself as a bit of a sleazy guy, heavy drinking sessions and nightclubs, which he just calls ‘unconventional’. Hmm. Nevertheless, if you can read through this, there is enough in the book to make you look over your shoulder a few more times, whilst traveling through Uzbekistan. ( )
  theonearmedcrab | Jan 13, 2016 |
Enjoyed the read. Not at all surprised at the way our (UK) government behaved. Reading it in 2014 many of us now accept that we behave horrendously abroad. Now we have a conservative prime minister building up the same stories of direct threat to UK to justify another war on X.

Murray's philandering and treatment of his wife is depressing but does add an air of honesty to the piece. ( )
  rogerhyam | Oct 2, 2014 |
Craig Murray's account of his time as British ambassador in Uzbekistan, combined with a critique of British and Western policy regarding the regime of Islom Karimov. This is an amazing and honest tale of how a hard-drinking, womanising diplomat turned into a human-rights activist as a result of observing a very nasty dictatorship in action.
  Fledgist | Apr 20, 2011 |
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Published in the UK as "Murder in Samarkand", in the USA as "Dirty Diplomacy".
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When Craig Murray arrived in Uzbekistan to take up his post in 2002, 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. Following his discovery that the British government was accepting information obtained under torture, Murray could no longer maintain a diplomatic silence. When he voiced his outrage, Washington and 10 Downing Street decided he had to go. But Uzbekistan had changed the high-living diplomat and there was no way he was going to go quietly. In this candid and at times shocking memoir, Murray lays bare the dark and dirty underside of the War on Terror.… (more)

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