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7 thoughts on “Small Accolade

  • Chuck Unsworth


    In both cases two short words come to mind.

    They are 'arse' and 'elbow'.

    In any event, congratulations. Well deserved.

  • Randal

    Somewhat off-topic, but I picked up a copy of Murder in Samarkand today at the Sheffield branch of Waterstones, on the 3 for 2 offer (I picked up "On the Road to Kandahar" and "Taking Liberties" at the same time, to take advantage of the offer).

    On the plus side, the copy of Murder I picked up was the last one on the table, which suggests they were selling. On the down side, it was not on one of the downstairs tables at the front of the shop, but on a separate 3 for 2 table upstairs in the Politics section.

    I noticed that Rory Stewart's "Occupational Hazards" was also on 3 for 2, but that was on the main tables downstairs. I was given Rory's book for Christmas, and I must admit I enjoyed reading it. I found it satisfyingly confirmatory of my own suspicions regarding the incompetence of the occupying powers, and also very amusing (although not usually intentionally).

    You may know Rory personally. My only knowledge of him is through his book, but he came across to me as a modern example of the kind of intelligent and well-meaning upper or upper middle class twit who were the backbone of the Victorian Empire – still convinced of his own righteousness, but with muscular Christianity replaced by modern secular Democracy- and multiculturalism-worship.

    I suspect he deliberately emulated the style of the Victorian colonial administrator's memoirs, in some ways – I found it very reminiscent of such, and I don't think it was entirely due to the content.

    Anyway, I'm sure Rory is a great chap when you meet him – intelligent, competent and well-meaning – though obviously I have only his own self-description and writing ability to go on. It's only when you put such people in charge of foreigners' lives that they become a problem. It's only the fact that they genuinely believe they are competent to run foreigners' lives that qualifies them as "twits".

  • Randal

    "Rory Stewart reminds me of a lightweight (very) Gertrude Bell."

    LOL! Me, too, now that you mention it, John…..

  • Randal

    Craig, that is a belter of a book!

    I will press it on as many of my acquaintances as are likely to respond to such pressure.

    I have very strong non-interventionist ideals, based upon long consideration. These are among perhaps my most deeply held convictions. Books like yours force me to reassess them. Which is no bad thing, periodically.

    It is impossible to read about people in such a plight as the Uzbekistanis (the Iraqis under Saddam were another such case) without feeling a natural revulsion and determination that something should be done. It is only my pragmatic confidence that the attempt to do something by force is as likely in practice to make things worse as better that protects me from falling into the kind of imperialist paternalism embodied by the likes of Niall Ferguson and even, in their own way, the neo-cons.

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