Separated at Birth 21

A reader has pointed out that Sherard Cowper Cole’s new book. Cables from Kabul, looks uncannily like Dirty Diplomacy, the US version of Murder in Samarkand, published four years previously. The books are indeed very similar. Except that Dirty Diplomacy has a sexy picture of a young lady on the spine – and the content is interesting.

Allowed HTML - you can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

21 thoughts on “Separated at Birth

  • mary

    Imitation is the highest form of flattery!

    PS Don’t the Yanks know where Samarkand is?

  • Samarkandian Boy

    @Mary. I found Ameericans more literate, hospitable and well informed then those of England. English kids are bunch of alcohol and tobacco addicted, single mums and chav boys, where in America familes are still connected and the kids do not get wastesm instead they work their socks off.

    Americans know about Uzbekistan, Samarkand generally … those I have talked to. in England people would either think Uzbekistan is the same as PakISTAN, AfghaNISTAN or some kind of terrorist country.

    I spent 10 years in England and this is my first year yet in US. US is more civilized then England (not Scotland, beran in mind, i have not been to Scotland)

    • Azra

      That is so funny! you know what, the first time I went to USA, I was asked where I was coming from, when I said England, the guy said ” you mean New England”,I said no, Great Britain, his next questions was ” do they have air conditions there”!
      Drugs are so widely used in USA, ten times worse than UK, I know 3 generations in the same family who use recreational drugs and think nothing of it (and they live in Mid West not in some funky city), school kids as young as 11 inject drugs..they do not know what is happening in their own state leave alone the rest of the worlds, all you have to do to pick up their newspaper… (for your information , I am not British so it is not a biased opinion).. suggest you read this: UK kids ,

  • craig Post author

    Well, I have to confess that the (American) publisher did change the title precisely because they thought Americans would not buy a book about Samarkand. Maybe they were underestimating their market, but that is the truth of it.

    It is certainly true that most people of Britain think you say Pakistan when you say Uzbekistan. But I can’t honestly claaim I have found that different in the USA. I wish I could pretend Scotland is a lot better!

    I do remember buying a ticket at the airport from Austin to Phoenix, and being asked (seriously) whether that was domestic or international.

  • mark_golding

    Samarkandian Boy,

    Americans are hospitable and neighborly I agree, but no more so than many places in the UK especially the Highlands where I personally received welcome, kindness and generosity. I worked in the US for a long time and found American kids no more educated, cultured or sophisticated than our own. I found drug abuse is more prevalent in America because drugs are easier to obtain, with most ‘soft’ drugs originating from Mexico. My advice is to spend a little more time in your community and beyond before making wide ranging assessments.

  • Herbie

    I went to America seven times. In my earlier visits I found the place quite a cultural shock when compared with my experience of Britain, Ireland and Europe.
    I’m now only shocked by how much like them we’ve become.

  • Herbie

    YugoStiglitz asks, “How’s that DSK conspiracy working out for you folks?”
    Very well, in fact. The banksters got what they wanted, some idiots made idiots of themselves and will pay the price and the world is safe for banksterism again.

  • craig Post author


    You really crowed rather too soon. All indications are that it is going to turn out that what happened is precisely what I said happened.

    • John K


      Not really an honour, I;m afraid – it’s part of a series about how book cover designers and publishers are so lazy that they just copy each others’ ideas.

  • Jon

    I agree, any mention in Private Eye is a bonus. I’ve sent in many a hilarious photo, but Ian never writes back. I cry into my cocoa at night! 😉

  • David

    At work one day I had the misfortune to pick up someone else’s phone. The person at the other end had no manners. No “hello”, no “thanks” upon my offer to take a message and I could sense a certain attitude making it’s way down the phone. Being in a particular frame of mind, I decided to wind this ignorant person up. I took his message and on hearing his name “Sherard Cowper Cole”, I asked him to repeat it. Of course, people with ego’s don’t like this. He repeated it saying “just say Sherard rang. So I said “how do you spell Sherard?” all chumily as if I was his best mate. He put the phone down. Very infantile I know, but it put a smile on my face. Life’s full of little victories. I didn’t pass the message on.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Samarkandian Boy and Azra et al, it’s difficult, isn’t it, to apply generalities to entire nations of 5 million or 60 million or 300 million people; one’s own experiences depend on so many factors. There is likely to be widespread ignorance, though, in both the UK and USA, wrt Uzbekistan and indeed about most of the ex-Soviet states in Asia. People know a bit about South Asia only because of the British Empire. Hardly anyone will know about Siberians, for example, yet Siberia forms the largest geographical part of Russia (and of the USSR before it). Most people think of the CIS/Russia in terms of the standard Cold War/post-Cold War stereotypes – which of course (as with other stereotypes) do exist. During the Cold War, the peoples of the USSR remained undifferentiated – in essence, in the West, they were all ‘Russian’ (and, of course, outside of diverse but commodified folk pageantry, etc., the USSR helped to foster that image and indeed depended on it for its very existence). In the case of Russia, in the UK, the current set of stereotypes might be summarised as ‘Vodka, whores, hotel workers, football oligarchs and spies on a backdrop of nukes, steppes and Cossack dancing’ – but few people think of what ordinary Russians might be like, far less of them as being – and looking – Siberian, ‘Asian’, rather than ‘just like us’. We do the same thing, of course, with the Americans, the Chinese and the English, or, ‘the farangi’ (‘Franks’), etc. generally imaging these as white northern Europeans/ Han Chinese. It’s the nitty-gritty, the detail, the specificity that broadens, and confounds, the experience. ‘Centre’ and ‘periphery’ become scumbled, and yet simultaneously, clearer. Now these gravitational forces are shifting, let’s see what is thrown up.

  • Clark

    Sir Sherard Louis Cowper-Coles KCMG LVO (born in London, England, 8 January 1955) is a British diplomat. From 2009 to 2010 the Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, he is now BAE Systems’ international business development director, focusing on the Middle East and south-east Asia.

Comments are closed.