The Catholic Orangemen of Togo

January 12, 2009 at 9:35 pm | Posted in British Politics, International, Media, New Labour | Leave a comment

orangemen

Not long ago, Craig Murray had a publishing deal. The former ambassador to Uzbekistan, whose first book described the ambivalence and complicity of our own government in some pretty grave human rights abuses, was due to publish a prequel about his (and his country’s) involvement in Africa.

But whilst delays, threats and legal obfuscations weren’t enough to keep Murder in Samarkand from eventually being published, the forces of censorship have finally scored a small victory. Due to the threat of legal action from lawyers representing one of the book’s main antagonists, Murray’s publishers pulled the plug, leaving The Catholic Orangemen of Togo without a home or a means of widespread circulation.

Which is where the internet comes in. Determined that his legal problems shouldn’t bar people from accessing a first-hand account of this important chapter in British foreign policy, Murray has made the whole book freely available in PDF format so that people can make up their own minds.

Whilst I should probably leave the book reviews to the better-qualified, I can tell you that it’s a riveting, insightful and (when you look beyond the author’s professed faults) deeply moral piece of work. Murray certainly makes a compelling and persuasive narrator: his style is easy to digest, his chapters are filled with insights and sharp observations about his working life, and the book is rooted firmly in the context of broader trends in British and international politics.

Whilst it’s pretty well researched and referenced, Murray doesn’t have any pretensions of producing a dispassionate, scholarly foreign policy tome. No, this is strictly a memoir, but beyond the anecdotes and personal reflections, there are still very serious issues raised about arms trafficking, the role of mercenaries and the future of democracy and international development. All in all, it’s a valuable contribution for those of us who dream of achieving that elusive goal of an ‘ethical foreign policy’, and a real indictment of the current state of free speech that it lacks a mainstream publisher.

You can find more information about the book at Craig Murray’s own blog, download the full version (in two parts) here & here, and if you feel impressed enough to order a self-published hard copy, you can do so here.

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