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Murder in Samarkand: A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror Paperback – International Edition, March 6, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


"I thought that diplomats like Craig Murray were an extinct breed. A man of the highest principle"
–John Pilger

"An important and well-told story from a frontline on the war of terror"
The Spectator

"The Uzbek people know only one word for Craig Murray: hero"
–Mohammad Salih, Uzbek opposition leader

"Heroic. This darkly comic tale...rings horribly true. It helps explain the moral bankruptcy [of] the Blair government"
–Sir Max Hastings, Sunday Times, 16 July 2006

"The book is fantastic. It is very, very funny...It also deals with the fact that the reason he is no longer ambassador is that the British Government was using information obtained from torture and he thought that was wrong"
–Michael Winterbottom, Director

"This candid account...looks set to ruffle a few feathers"

"The actions of this brave and principled man have certainly exposed the 'war on terror' for the sick charade that it is"
Morning Star

Sunday Express

About the Author

Craig Murray was born in 1958. He joined the Diplomatic Service in 1984 and served in Nigeria, Poland and Ghana, before being appointed Ambassador to Uzbekistan in 2002. He retired from the Civil Service in 2005. He now lives in London, where he works as a writer and broadcaster.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing; New Ed edition (March 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845962214
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845962210
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,365,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By BioDiplomacy on July 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
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 Prime Minister. Tony Blair ignored diplomatic advice if it complicated his relations with George W. Bush. How the British Foreign Office tried but failed to dismiss Ambassador Murray for invented disciplinary offences is an individual tale of injustice. However, the gripping core of this story is of a young and studious Ambassador driven to take absurd risks in remote parts of Uzbekistan as he builds up a dossier of incontrovertible brutalities by his host government. Those who try to obstruct him find this experienced and slightly overweight scholar is no patsy. He disputes the lies of petty bureaucrats. He storms into a corrupt procurator's office and dismisses him as a criminal - a risky way to use 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 chase with President Karimov's goons in pursuit - no wonder film rights are under discussion.

The shocking part of this story - narrated with skill and honesty - is that, at heart, much of the British Foreign Office valued Ambassador Murray's reporting from his Embassy in Tashkent. Dealing with human rights abuses is never easy. Murray knew his way around the policy heavyweights at home well enough to make sure that a controversial speech critical of Uzbekistan had support from the human rights desks. But when the White House complained to Tony Blair and he passed this down the line, spines crumpled - from Foreign Secretary Jack Straw down. This book shows how diplomats can bring shame or honor to their country.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Sabretache on July 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
Allegations of visas in exchange for sex against a British ambassador to some ex-Soviet republic; subsequently cleared on all counts but forced out nonetheless. Like many in Britain that was all that really remained in my memory of the lurid headlines and media reports of a year or so ago - and life carried on.

Anyone for whom that rings bells owes it to themselves to read this book, as does anyone wondering about the true nature of the West's so called 'War on Terror'. It is deeply disturbing on two levels:

1. It documents the appalling nature of the 20 year Uzbek Regime of Islam Karimov. A regime which spans the pre and post-to-date Soviet era. Not in some dry academic fashion either but through the exploits of the Ambassador who, at considerable risk to his own safety, intervened in numerous cases of offical brutality. The reader is left in no doubt that the Karimov regime of Uzbekistan is on a par with the very worst of the worlds self-serving and brutal dictatorships. It was during this period that controversy about US/UK willingness to 'make use of evidence obtained under torture' and US so called 'rendition flights' became public. The ambassador reported that any such 'evidence' from Uzbekistan was useless since the regime was simply in the business of forcing 'dissidents to confirm what the regime wanted the West to hear. His reports were unwelcome.

2. To have the true nature of one the then principal strategic allies in the West's 'War on Terror' exposed to scrutiny was judged by the Foreign Office top brass to be (euphemistically) 'counterproductive'.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Violetta Smart on February 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I can't understand why there are no reviews of this book. It is truly superb, a gripping account of a British ambassador, who defended the principles upon which a genuine democracy is based, waging a battle against a bloody dictator supported by the Bush/Cheney regime and his own government.

Why did Bush/Cheney/Blair support Karimov, whom Craig Morris exposed as a torturer who had boiled an opposition leader in oil? Because of the dictator's "contributions" to the so-called War on Terror: a military base in Uzbekhistan for the Bush/Cheney regime, and a willing accomplice in the torture individuals believed to be terrorists.

Of course Craig Murray suffered at the hands of his own government--the ways are revealed in the book--when he complained vehemently against using "information" which was the product of torture by the dictator's inhuman henchmen. He didn't know it at the time, but the CIA was carrying out a policy now known as "extraordinary rendition."

The book is valuable, not only because it is a well-written account of Craig Murray's insistence on refusing to cooperate with a savage regime that terrified the population of Uzbekhistan in ways that the worst of our nightmares could not conceive, as well as this ambassador's battle against his own government, but also because it provides details of the daily life of a ranking diplomat, a rare occurrence.

I cannot recommend Murder in Samarkand highly enough! The book deserves every one of the five stars I have given it.
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