With all the pace and drama of a political thriller, Dirty Diplomacy is a riveting account of a young, fast-living ambassador's battle against a ruthless dictatorship in Central Asia and the craven political expediency in Washington and London that eventually cost him his job.
Craig Murray is no ordinary diplomat. He enjoys a drink or three, and if it's in the company of a pretty girl, so much the better. Murray's scant regard for the rules of the game also extends to his job. When, in the first few weeks of his posting to the little-known Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan, he comes across photographs of a political dissident who has literally been boiled to death, he ignores diplomatic nicety and calls it for what it is: torture of the cruelest sort.
Murray soon discovers that this is no one-off incident: fierce abuse of those opposing the government is rife. It's not long before he is tearing around the country in his embassy Land Rover, shaking off Uzbek police tails and crashing through roadblocks to meet with dissidents and expose their persecutors. He even confronts the despotic president, Islom Karimov, face-to-face.
But Murray's bosses in London's Foreign Office, ever mindful of their senior partners in Washington, don't want to upset the applecart. Karimov is an ally in the newly announced Global War on Terror. His country is host to a big American air base. The last thing they need is a battling young diplomat stirring things up. In Craig Murray, that's exactly what they've got...
CRAIG MURRAY was British ambassador at the embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, from 2002 to 2005, having previously served as a diplomat in Africa and Eastern Europe. He is rector of the University of Dundee and an honorary research fellow at the University of Lancaster School of Law. He lives in London with his partner, Nadira.