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Liberating Libya (Hardback)

British Diplomacy and War in the Desert

Military > By Century > 20th Century World History > Africa

Imprint: Casemate Publishers
Pages: 288
Illustrations: 40 photographs
ISBN: 9781636240824
Published: 5th December 2021



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Free Libya! was the chant heard throughout Libya during the Arab Spring revolution that ended with the death of Colonel Gadaffi in October 2011. The story is about British involvement in Libya since the first treaty signed with the rulers in Tripoli in January 1692.


The book is divided into four eras. The first covers the period up to the Italian invasion in 1911; the second covers the First World War and Italian pacification; the third covers the Western Desert Campaign; and the final part brings the reader up to date with recent events. In the words of the Foreign Secretary, Edward Grey, the 1911 Italian invasion of Libya "led straight to the catastrophe of 1914". Using memoirs of politicians and correspondents from both sides of the conflict, the author pieces together British involvement, shedding new light on the Senussi Campaign and the Duke of Westminster’s rescue of 100 British PoWs at Bir Hakkeim, as well as the story of Colonel Milo Talbot, who did as much as TE Lawrence to establish British influence with Arab leadership, but was never rewarded for his work.


Even though hundreds of books have been written about the Western Desert Campaign, this book includes much unpublished material in addressing the contentious issues and explains why General Brian Horrocks wrote: "Command in the desert was regarded as an almost certain prelude to a bowler hat". The final part of the book begins with Britain’s operations to establish Libya as an independent kingdom and the rise of nationalism that led to Gadaffi’s coup in 1969. The story of the tense relationship with the Brotherly Leader during the 'Line of Death' era and subsequent rapprochement precedes an authoritative account of the 2011 revolution. The final chapter, brings the reader up to date with the current conflict as well as the migration crisis and the Manchester Arena bombers.

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