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A History of Modern Libya [Paperback]

by Dirk Vandewalle
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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A History of Modern Libya A History of Modern Libya 3.8 out of 5 stars (4)
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Book Description

February 13, 2006 0521615542 978-0521615549
Libya is coming in from the cold, but for most of the three decades following Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's self-styled revolution in 1969, the country was politically isolated and labelled a pariah state. Dirk Vandewalle, one of only a handful of Western scholars to visit the country during this time, is intimately acquainted with Libya. He offers a lucid and comprehensive account of Libya's past, and corrects some of the misunderstandings about its present. The story begins in the 1900s with a portrait of Libya's desert terrain and the personalities that shaped its development. Professor Vandewalle then covers Libya's history during the Italian colonial period (1911-1943) and the monarchy that ruled between 1951 and 1969. He goes on to discuss the subsequent regime of Colonel Qadhafi and the economic, political, and ideological developments that he engendered. Finally, he describes the most recent events that brought Libya back into the international fold. As the first comprehensive history of Libya over the last two decades, this book will be welcomed by scholars and students of North Africa, the Middle East, and by those who are visiting and doing business in the region. Diederik (Dirk) Vandewalle is Associate Professor of Government at Dartmouth College, and former chair of its Asian and Middle Eastern Studies program. His academic specialty focuses on the political economy of North Africa, and on strategies of political and economic liberalization in the region. Vandewalle is the author of Libya Since Independence: Oil and State-building ( 1998), editor of two volumes on Libya and North Africa, and author of numerous journal articles. He has received, among a number of awards, a Fulbright and Social Science Research Council grant for his research, and has been a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard Institute of International Development and at Harvard's Center of Middle Eastern Studies.

Editorial Reviews


""Much more than a political, chronological or narrative review in 200 pages, this work effectively delivers a sympathetic, nevertheless critical, thorough and authoritative analysis.[...] Highly recommended." - Choice

"Vandewalle, an associate professor of government at Dartmouth, is recognized as one of the most knowledgeable students of Libya, and his A History of Modern Libya does not disappoint." - Middle East Quarterly

"There has clearly been no lack of studies on Libya and its leader over the years. The book under review, however, has the advantage of placing developments after 1969 in perspective relative to the country's early history: it shows how Qadhafi's apparent dramatic and idiosyncratic political ideas can be seen as a logical conclusion of Libya's earlier weakness or failure as a state. Emphasizing economic structures and policies, the book places these into a political, ideological, and structural context that makes it an excellent and up-to-date analytical introduction to the history of this country, which has had an impact so much larger than its size." - International Journal of Middle East Studies

Book Description

Dirk Vandewalle offers a lucid and comprehensive account of Libya's past, and corrects some of the misunderstandings about its present. This book will be welcomed by scholars and students of North Africa, the Middle East, and by those who are visiting and doing business in the region.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (February 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521615542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521615549
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,357,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Weak History of Libya Since the Ottoman Period January 7, 2009
By Suchos
This is a concise history of modern Libya, with token background from the Ottoman period, slightly more detail from the Italian colonial period, and the vast majority of its focus on the monarchy (1951-1969) and the Qadhafi period (1969 to present). The author deals almost exclusively with political and economic history, with very little attention to cultural or religious themes.

Even on such limited terms, the book fails in a number of ways. First, Vandewalle has an odd habit of not defining terms that a reader of such a general history might find useful. For example, he refers often to the Sublime Porte -- a term that a general student of the Middle East and especially of the Ottoman Empire ought to know, certainly, but probably not familiar to the general reader. Another example is the Bab al-Aziziyya, which the author defines on page 150, but which he began using on page 121 (without any hint that a definition was forthcoming).

Second, and more importantly, the book lacks a surprising amount of detail. We are informed that a small group accomplished a coup against King Idris in September, 1969, but we are told almost nothing else: where did the coup happen? How did it happen? Perhaps a palace was stormed, or military installations seized? We are not even told of the fate of King Idris -- was he executed, banished, imprisoned, or left alone? These are all natural questions when dealing with something as momentous as the coup that changed Libya from a shaky kingdom to a radical, terrorist-sponsoring anti-state.

We are informed that two Libyan planes were shot down over the Gulf of Sirt after some kind of dispute. What was the nature of the dispute? Again, we are not told.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Libya as of today. August 8, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I thought the book would give a modern view of customs ,geography and archytecture of this country but it was'nt like this.Instead the political history is presented which by the way is written very well.
I know quite a lot of this history as Libya was my second home for years but I feel a bit neglected when the book tells nothing about the people of this region.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best reference on Modern Libya January 7, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Professor Vandewalle is recognized globally as a leading scholar of modern Libya. This concise yet readable history is an excellent introduction to Libya both before, during and after the late dictator's reign. It will not alone explain Libya's current challenges, but it is essential background to understanding them.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellant and up-to-date reference April 4, 2007
As an expat living in Libya since August 2005 I read this book with focused interest. It has greatly helped me understand my government bureaucratic customer. And this new insight has reduced my fustration and increased my effectiveness.
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