The Red Soil of Africa 2


Publisher’s blurb for new book –

In this prequel to Murder in Samarkand Craig Murray asserts that once the red soil of Africa gets into your blood, you are in thrall to the continent for the rest of your life. Returning in 1998 from heading the Political and Economic sections of the British Embassy in Warsaw, Craig becomes Deputy Head of the Africa Department of the FCO. Within two weeks of taking up the job suave, controversial, ex Guards officer and mercenary commander Colonel Tim Spicer walks into Craig Murray’s office. Murray does not like what he finds and reports Spicer to Customs and Excise – and creates the Arms to Africa Investigation that is the first big crisis of Tony Blair’s government. Suspended from duty, grilled by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, then quickly despatched sideways to Ghana as Deputy High Commissioner. Murray next finds himself caught up in nightmarish and extremely dangerous face to face negotiations with Foday Sankoh and the murderous rebels of Sierra Leone, famous for mutilating children and pregnant women and hacking off the limbs of thousands of victims. After negotiating with Sankoh and Charles Taylor, now both facing war crimes tribunals, Murray miraculously emerges with a peace deal that saved the lives of tens of thousands, only to have his thunder stolen by Jesse Jackson in a hilariously comical episode.

Strongly commended by Robin Cook and loaded with obscure African honours, Murray then launches into arranging a State Visit for the Queen to Ghana which is part of his strategy to massage perpetual ruler Jerry Rawlings out of office. Outwitting the Rawlings regime in a series of astonishing set pieces, including canoe borne trips to obscure villages personally to supervise voter registration, Murray delivers free and fair elections that enable the opposition peacefully to take power, and Murray becomes a national hero in Ghana. But his public statement that British companies have been involved in corruption in Africa draws down firm censure from the FCO and he is despatched to remote Uzbekistan in order, his bosses hope, that he will never be heard of again….

Told with Murray’s customary style and panache, this near incredible story points up many of the paradoxes of Western involvement in the Africa which Murray loves so deeply. Readers of Murder in Samarkand will enjoy again the alternation of impish wit and moral high mindedness, high jinx and stunning flashes of political insight. And, as ever with Murray, there are several lovers and a variety of alcoholic beverages on the way, as well as green mambas, cerebral malaria and a mischievous Ashanti ghost…


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