Sunday, December 09, 2007

Spicing Up Craig Murray

For those who haven't yet read Craig Murray's fine book "Murder in Samarkand" , there is a taster here which reproduces seven or so pages from the start of his book - you may need to register. It is taken from a New York Times' "Sunday Book Review" following the publication of his book in America under the title "Dirty Diplomacy" .

Sometimes books don't live up to the promise of their early pages. This isn't, however, the case with Craig Murray's book which I have already praised here.

The New York Times have now produced a curmudgeonly review of Craig's book as the reviewer doesn't like Craig's confessions about his sex life. Yet it is exactly Craig's ability to mix details about his personal life with the horrors of the Uzbekistan regime, which carries the reader along.

Confessions can also be informative about the wider picture. He explains that it was because he had discovered a convenient place to piss up against a wall, that he knew the way to get Claire Short and her high power delegation out of a building when the Uzbek authorities attempted to block them in. It gave Claire as Minister for Overseas Development her only brief opportunity to find out for herself what life was like in the country - away from the controls and manipulations of the regime.

I suspect that the New York Times' reviewer was reacting against the publisher's presentation of Craig's book as being about "the rough-and-tumble adventures of a scotch-drinking, skirt-chasing, dictator-busting and unrepentant Ambassador stuck on the front line against terror." The British edition refers more soberly and accurately to "a British Ambassador's controversial defiance of tyranny in the war on terror". Overall, it is a much more accurate description - plus the odd bits of spice.

Craig's book is both good for one's soul and an entertaining read. Those qualities don't often go together.

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