Libya's Qaddafi: The Politics of Contradiction

Libya's Qaddafi: The Politics of Contradiction

Libya's Qaddafi: The Politics of Contradiction

Libya's Qaddafi: The Politics of Contradiction


"By far the best book ever written on the Qaddafi era". -- Daniel Pipes, Middle East Quarterly

-- "A first-rate objective analysis of the complexities of modern Libyan politics with a special focus on that country's controversial leader... evenhanded and immensely readable". -- Library Journal


I started this project in 1981 with three goals in mind. The first goal was to write a manuscript that compares pre- and postrevolutionary Libya. The second was to examine the political, economic, and social systems in each of these periods. I felt that my Libyan origin and my ability to communicate with Libyans on Libyan terms would give me a distinct advantage in understanding their concerns and feelings and hence would ultimately give the manuscript a Libyan point of view.

Before I enunciate my third goal, let me set the parameters of this work. Serious scholars of Libyan politics will find much in this book that they already know and much that they do not. It must be understood, however, that they are not the target audience. The primary target audience are their students, nonspecialist academics, journalists, government officials, and most important of all lay people with an interest in Libya or others who need to learn about the country from a single source. All readers will find this book, in the words of reviewers, the "fullest accounting of Libyan politics available in any language." It is "well balanced," "avoids polemics," "elegantly written." "intelligently argued," and until we are able to conduct field research in Libya, is "probably the best that we will have for a while."

Unfortunately, the little that is published by Libyans on Libya tends to fall into three categories: historical works and pro-Qaddafi and anti-Qaddafi literature. Writers in the first category, many of whom still live and work in Libya fearing reprisals, understandably limit their writing to either Libya's colonial period or nonpolitical issues. The writers in the second category concentrate much of their focus on the virtues of General Qaddafi's Third International Theory and the merits of its applicability. The works of writers in the third category can be found in the numerous Libyan opposition journals and books published in England and the United States. My purpose is neither to condemn nor to condone but only to provide a true political, economic, and social portrait of a country that is sorely misunderstood. In the process I have utilized the information provided by authors in these three categories to distill what I believe to be the driving forces behind the difficult process of Libyan development.

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