The Prankster From Tripoli

One of the more curious features of our time is the inordinate attention given by the Reagan administration and the American media to Libya and its mercurial dictator, Muammar Qaddafi. Sporadic outbursts in Washington, echoed in the press, have served to elevate the unstable ruler of a weak. Third World police state to almost superhuman proportions. In the process, American policymakers have contributed to whatever influence Qaddafi has gained among extremists in the Middle East and deflected attention from the more effective practitioners of terror in that region. In recent years, Qaddafi has come to symbolize much that Americans think they know and dislike about the Arab and Muslim worlds, and he has provided Washington a scapegoat on which to vent frustration for failed policies toward Lebanon, Iran, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Understanding all this, British journalists David Blundy and Andrew Lycett, longtime Middle East correspondents for the London Sunday Times, try to demythologize Qaddafi in this balanced and objective book.

Qaddafi rules a land that deserves better. His is not the first regime in 20th-century Libya to achieve military domination through terror. In the 1920's, Mussolini's troops under General Rudolfo Graziani, in an effort to crush Libyan resistance led by Omar Mukhtar, raped and disemboweled women, threw men from airplanes, and established concentration camps in which tens of thousands...

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