Craig Murray was the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Uzbekistan until he was removed from his post in October 2004 after exposing appalling human rights abuses by the US-funded regime of President Islam Karimov. In this candid and at times shocking memoir, he lays bare the dark and dirty underside of the War on Terror. In Uzbekistan, the land of Alexander the Great and Tamburlaine, lurks one of the most hideous tyrannies on earth – one founded on cotton slavery and brutal torture. As neighbouring ‘liberated’ Afghanistan produces record levels of heroin, the Uzbek rulers cash in on massive trafficking. They are even involved in trafficking their own women to prostitution in the West. But this did not prevent Karimov being viewed as a key US ally in the War on Terror. When Craig Murray arrived in Uzbekistan, 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. When Murray decided to go public with his shocking findings, Washington and 10 Downing Street reached the conclusion that he had to go. But Uzbekistan had changed the high-living diplomat and there was no way he was going to go quietly.
On December 28th 2000, Charlotte Wilson, a 27-year-old VSO worker, was killed when her bus, the inauspiciously named Titanic Express, was ambushed in war-torn Burundi. The attackers were members of the Hutu-extremist FNL, a faction linked to those responsible for the Rwandan genocide. Twenty others died with Charlotte, including her Burundian fiance. One of the few survivors was given a chilling message for the Burundian government: “We’re going to kill them all and there’s nothing you can do”. In “Titanic Express”, Charlotte’s brother Richard charts his painful struggle to unravel what happened that day, to understand the complex and brutal history that lay behind it. Cutting through the obfuscations of the authorities, he uncovers a story of violence, fanaticism and neglect that exposes the self-interest and double standards at the heart of our supposed commitment to human rights and the fight against terror. As the facts begin to emerge, the family’s deep personal grief is compounded by the realisation that this murder is just one among thousands, in a war fuelled as much by western cynicism and African greed as by ethnic divisions. “Titanic Express” is a political detective story, a memoir of grief and a moving portrait of an extraordinary woman who died at the very moment she had found fulfilment. In gripping detail it shows the human reality of lives torn apart by the machinations of war and diplomatic expediency, where competing versions of the truth can be as deadly as bullets and machetes.
International lawyer Philippe Sands has a unique insider’s view of the elites who govern our lives. His sensational revelations in Lawless World changed the political agenda overnight, forcing Tony Blair to publish damning material that he’d tried to hide. Now, in this updated edition with a shocking new chapter, you can get the full story of how the US and UK governments are riding roughshod over international agreements on human rights, war, torture and the environment – the very laws they put in place. Here sands looks at why global rules matter for all of us. And he powerfully makes the case for preserving them …before justice becomes history.
The Caspian Region, lying south of Russia, west of China and north of Afghanistan, contains the world’s largest untapped oil and gas resources. As much as 100 billion barrels of crude oil and 40 per cent of the world’s global gas reserves can be found in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Since the fall of communism, politicians and multi-national companies have struggled to possess and develop these resources.
In his penetrating new book, Lutz Kleveman reveals that there is a new ‘Great Game’ being played out in the region, a modern variant of the nineteenth-century clash of imperial ambitions between Britain and Russia, but with higher stakes. Desperate to wean itself from dependence on the OPEC cartel, the United States is now pitted in a struggle with Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Iran ‘ most of which are nuclear powers ‘ for dominance of the Caspian’s fabulous energy reserves and its pipeline routes.
Lutz Kleveman researched and travelled extensively in the Caucasus, the Caspian and Central Asia, meeting with oil barons, generals, diplomats and warlords from Kabul to Moscow. The New Great Game is a revelatory and extremely timely account of the perilous game to dominate the crucial resources ‘ one that mixes religion and oil to explosive effect.
From Scotland’s best traditional music outfit.
Includes the original track ‘Ambassador Craig Murray’s Reel’.
In one breathtaking, breathless volume Fitzroy Maclean tells of his career as diplomat and soldier from 1937-45.
The first part of the book deals with his diplomatic career in the USSR. Maclean quickly tires of the endless cycle of diplomatic receptions and the restrictions upon travel, and decides to see more of the USSR, particularly the Central Asian republics that were still being assimilated into the Union. He sets off on a series of enlightening journeys (with little or no official approval!) that take him far from Moscow to the legendary cities of Samarkand and Bokhara. This is fine travel writing indeed, Maclean giving a very powerful sense of what the Stalinist era was like and also of the exoticism of Central Asia. There are also powerful descriptions of the Stalist purges of 1938 and the accompanying “show trials”.
The second part of the book covers Maclean’s exploits with the SAS in the North African deserts and the Middle East. Resigning from his diplomatic post to join the Army (using the convenient excuse of becoming an MP!) Maclean serves as a private in a Scottish regiment for some time before being commmissioned and sent to the Middle East. Here he falls in with David Stirling and becomes an early member of the SAS – his stories of their training, tactics and raids are powerful indeed, matched by evocative descriptions of the African landscapes. Maclean moves on to form SAS units in the Middle East, but before long is summoned to go behind enemy lines as Churchill’s military representative to Tito’s Yugoslav partisans.
The final third of the book mixes military action and politics, with Maclean organising the support for the Partisans and representing them to the Allies. The political agenda here is a little blurred – Maclean is obviously a Conservative who has instinctive support for the return of the Yugoslav monarchy, and yet he admires Tito for what he has achieved in the liberation of his own country, while still maintaining a personal anti-Communist agenda… This section of the book makes the sheer scale of the Partisan operations very apparent, and hints at the confusion between the Western allies over the future fate of Yugoslavia.
This is a splendidly readable book, full of incident and description, with vividly drawn characters. It is told with occasional gentle humour, modesty, and genuine insight.
Maclean’s adventures arguably span the end of the “Great Game” – political influence won by adventurers – and the beginning of the Cold War, and his memoirs of this historical crossroads are thought-provoking and highly entertaining.
Fisk’s first hand accounts of (in particular) the Iran-Iraq conflict, Operation Desert Storm, his meetings with Bin Laden, Lebanon, the gruelling iniquities of life in the occupied territories, the idiocy of the Bush administration and its arrogant and misguided lapdogs in Downing Street, the effects of depleted uranium weapons ‘ to name just a few — are all fabulous bits of journalism placed within a sound historical context.
‘one of the best books about secret intelligence work ever written’ – Peter Hopkirk.
Colonel F. M. Bailey, whose extraordinary adventures are told here, was long accused by Moscow of being a British master-spy sent in 1918 to overthrow the Bolsheviks in Central Asia. As a result, he enjoyed many years after his death an almost legendary reputation there – that of half-hero, half-villain. In this remarkable book he tells of the perilous game of cat-and-mouse, lasting sixteen months, which he played with the Bolshevik secret police, the dreaded Cheka. At one point, using a false identity, he actually joined the ranks of the latter, who unsuspectingly sent him to Bokhara to arrest himself. Told with almost breathtaking understatement, Bailey’s narrative – set in a region once more back in the headlines – reads like vintage Buchan.
Review By Craig Murray
I would argue this is the World’s most unjustly neglected book. One of the greatest books of political analysis ever written, unjustly neglected. Heavily plagiarised by Lenin, the work still cited as the best evidence of Lenin’s intellectual credentials was in fact Hobson’s, a British Liberal in the tradition of Cobden and Bright.
Hobson argued that an Empire impoverishes the ordinary citizens of the Imperial nation, while funnelling money to small governing elites and what we would now call the military-industrial complex. His profound insight is backed by the statistical analysis of the first class economist that Hobson was.
Of course, this analysis is still valid today as the US taxpayer has spent, so far, $350 billion on the invasion and occupation of Iraq, while Exxon, Halliburton and the like make profits in unimaginable sums.
I have often been asked why I gave up a brilliant and highly rewarding career to fight the new imperialism. Partly it was simply that no decent human being could go along with the things I saw. And partly it was because I understood the processes I was witnessing. In very large part, I understood those processes because, as a young man, I had read Hobson. He really ought to be required reading for anyone who wishes to take a view on what is behind the invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, and the next one, be it Iran or elsewhere.