|Libya's Qaddafi: The Politics of Contradiction
by Mansour O. El-Kikhia
(University Press of Florida 1997)
[from: Booklist. Gilbert Taylor Copyright© 1997, American Library Association. All rights reserved.]
The U.S. knows little about Libya beyond encyclopedia
articles and air force targeting lists, so this
scholarly study might interest larger libraries. El-Kikhia's strength is elucidating the ethnic groupings within Libya's population of four million people, a political fact the outside world's focus on the country's eccentric leader tends to obscure. Beneath the patina of a socialism without a state (all laws were abolished in 1974), Qaddafi rules de facto through his tribal connections, which El-Kikhia clarifies by tracking the fortunes of those who have supported the leader. The author also provides ample detail about the economic strength--oil--that has enabled Qaddafi's various wars and grandiose construction projects. Readers won't find what makes Qaddafi tick (who could definitively say, anyway?), but they will find clear analysis of his philosophy, virtually a museum piece of anticolonial, anti-American, anticapitalist radicalism. An exile, El-Kikhia sympathizes with Libyans who live in the tension of a literally lawless society, but he doesn't allow his view to impair the factual dispassion and informativeness of his study.