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Libya since Independence: Oil and State-building Paperback – July 16, 1998

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1 edition (July 16, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801485355
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801485350
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,357,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This masterful study . . . makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of Libyan political development. It is essential reading for any student of Libya, and provides excellent comparative material for both North Africa specialists and political economists interested in rentier development."—John Barger, Journal of North African Studies (Autumn 1998)

"Dirk Vandewalle provides the reader with a thought-provoking analysis of the impact of massive and sudden capital inflows on state-building in Libya, a state which, since independence in 1951, has relied almost exclusively on capital inflows in order to survive. . . . Libya since Independence offers new and unique perspectives and insights on the internal development of Libya after 1951. It should be considered required reading for any student of Libya."—Ronald Bruce St. John, Middle East Journal (Vol. 54, No. 3)

"Vandewalle's book is not only a much needed and fresh look at the inner workings of Libya; it is also a very valuable contribution to an ongoing theoretical debate over rentier states, state-building, and etatism"—Azzedine Layachi, International Journal of Middle East Studies (Vol. 32)

"Dirk Vandewalle knows more about contemporary Libya than almost anyone else in the social sciences. Libya since Independence brings the scholarly literature on contemporary Libyan politics up to the present."—Ellis Goldberg, University of Washington

"This is one of those rare books that makes a large, comparative argument from a small, atypical case and does so persuasively. Vandewalle has long been known to Libyanists for his fine-grained appreciation of the country; with this book, he builds on his command of modern Libyan history and politics to construct and sustain an unusually sophisticated and provocative contribution to the theoretical debates about the nature of state revenues and the shape of the state itself. Vandewalle already had students of Libya eagerly awaiting this book, and they will not be disappointed, but his audience should widen to the broader community of students of international political economy, who will profit from this remarkably accessible and intelligent treatment of the origins and prospects of the distributive state."—Lisa Anderson, Columbia University

"This book about a rentier state adds a new dimension to the usual analysis. Rentier states, it is said, buy the compliance of their people with externally derived revenues instead of granting them representation in exchange for taxes. Dirk Vandewalle, in this excellent exploration of Libyan practice, goes further: such states may imagine they can do without public institutions altogether. Qadhafi abolished or obscured state instrumentalities with a wave of populist revolutionary committees and direct democracy. When the steep fall in oil revenues pricked the rentier bubble, Qadhafi had no institutions left to mount economic reforms and address the negative effect on wages and welfare. This work combines theoretical sophistication with thick description. Vandewalle's rich economic and political critique of a failed revolution gives face and features to a state and leader previously reduced to an incomprehensible stereotype."—Susanne Hoeber Rudolph, University of Chicago

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alessandro Bruno on November 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
I lived in Libya for two years and worked as a UNDP officer there. Having had first hand knowledge of this country I have found few books better than Vandewalle's Libya since Independence. Not only is it an informative text about Libya's socio-economic development it is also a study of the distributive State and the very negative consequences that oil wealth can generate if mishandled. Vandewalle deals with Libya since its independence in 1949 and the political, social and economic transformation that occurred from then to the present. The text notes that the regime that was established as a result of the 1969 revolution has made great efforts to distribute the wealth accumulated from oil production among the population while promoting large scale development projects in infrastructure, education and ISI industrial development. By far the largest single development effort has been the multi-billion dollar Great Man Made River (GMMR) project designed to facilitate irrigation for agricultural production along the Libyan coastline. According to the UNDP adequate standards of living have existed for the majority of the population as a result of an extensive program of welfare spending that has included the provision of state provided basic services and subsidies for many consumer products.
Although significant, Libya's development, both before and after the Fatih Revolution, has been almost entirely patronized by the state. Whereas the government intervened in all sectors of the economy, including import and distribution, there has recently been an effort to transfer some of that responsibility to the private sector.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
An amazingly comprehensive and insightful study of Libya since 1951. Goes far beyond all the hyberbolic statements the Kaddafi regime AND the United States government have made over the years by systematically putting the Libyan political experimentation in the context of Third World development. Judicious and careful, Vandewalle's access to Libya has produced what is perhaps the best book on this difficult subject in this decade. A real contribution to the study of Libya and to middle eastern studies in general.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
A remarkable piece of work. Libya remains one of the countries in the Middle East we know little about, and Vanderwalle's account is one of the best ever. It pretty much replaces whatever has been written about the country during the last 10-15 years in most academic and popular publications. It is scrupulously honest about Kaddafi's politics, and shows as no other previous account how the current Libyan leader extended many of his predecessor's policies. Well written and accessible, despite somewhat a somewhat daunting theoretical chapter. A definitive analysis of Libya since independence.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
Having just ordered Vandewalle's book for my seminar and lecture course, I can only wish this insightful account of Qadhafi's revolution--and its link to the Sanusi kingdom's attempt to avoid creating a modern state--had been available much earlier. It is easily the most sophisticated analysis of the country ever written, and the thoughtful application of a modified rational choice and institutional literature to the puzzle of a seeming absence of state-building in Libya is first-rate and clearly demonstrates how political scientists/political economists can integrate theoretical concepts and factual material in a provocative fashion. In addition, Vandewalle writes extremely well, in a fashion that makes the theoretical material accessible even for non-specialists. This book is a real tour-de-force, recommended to anyone interested in North Africa and the Middle East and the problem of state creation in the region.
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