The book “Murder in Samarkand” is about a British Ambassador’s controversial opposition to tyranny in the War on Terror. The ambassador represented the UK in Uzbekistan until in October 2004 he was forced out of the post. This happened after he exposed atrocious human rights abuses by the regime of President Islam Karimov, which was US-funded. In the ambassador’s candid memoir, he shares some of the most troubling aspects of the War on Terror.
The tyranny found in Uzbekistan is one of the worst ones on Earth. It was founded on torture and cotton slavery. At the time, Uzbekistan’s neighbor Afghanistan was manufacturing record amounts of heroin. The rules of Uzbek found ways to profit from the copious trafficking of illegal drugs. In fact, they were even participating in the human trafficking of their women, for prostitution in the West. However, all of these situations did not stop Karimov from being perceived as one of the US’s top allies in the War on Terror.
At the time Craig Murray first arrived in Uzbekistan, he was a young Ambassador. He had an outstanding career, and enjoyed the vices of women and whisky. Murray started to question his country’s democratizing of states after he learned of many of the atrocities that were happening throughout Uzbekistan. Unfortunately the events were not being reported in the media. Perhaps that would have had a negative impact on the US’s war on terror.
Murray had a tough decision to make. Should he go public with his incredible findings? He decided to do that. After he shed light on the atrocities that were happening in Uzbekistan, the US and UK both agreed that he could not remain at his post as ambassador. However, after his experiences there had change his life, Murray decided that he would oppose the pressure put upon him by the UK and US governments.
It’s interesting to note that the book was originally published by Mainstream in 2006. However, Murray had a tough time getting his book published that year. Before the publishing, interest was raised through means such as e-mail listing and Internet posts. The main goal of this PR move was to prevent the publisher from being pressed by the UK government to not publish the book.
It’s interesting to note that the electronic communications also mentioned that certain government documents had been removed because of various copyright concerns. However, the situation seemed odd because Murray had received a formal release. Thus, the documents should have been made available to the public freely.
Murray claimed that the government’s force removal of the documents. In fact, he explained that the UK government was basically reversing all gains that had been made in the world of Freedom of Information. This included the government trying to close websites where supporting documents were being posted. Although several attempts to achieve this goal have been successful in the past, the media’s interest in the story also meant that the documents often reappear on mirror sites.
There was an interesting controversy involving the cover of the book. In particular it involved the photographs on the 2007 paperback edition. That’s because 2/3 of the photos had appeared in a 2004 Lonely Planet guide to Central Asia.
Interestingly, the photos don’t show Samarkand at all. Also, the rear cover of the book uses the same photo that was used for a particular guidebook’s cover photo. Murray’s front cover includes a sunset scene that was on page 7 of the guide. Interestingly, Murray has state d that he did not select the cover of the book. He also doesn’t like the “masculine” appearance it has.