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Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012

Exit the Colonel: The Hidden History of the Libyan Revolution (Public Affairs) by Ethan Chorin

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For decades, Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi was a fixture as immovable on the world stage as the Berlin Wall. Like it, he suddenly fell. Ethan Chorin, who served in the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya after the Bush administration’s ironic embrace of Gaddafi as an ally in the War on Terror, was uniquely situated to evaluate the underlying weakness of Gaddafi’s regime. Although the history and the prose are sketchy in spots, Chorin offers a plausible portrait of the capricious, violent ruler who improved the lives of his people before veering on an unstable course of brutal repression, insane economics and global provocation. A wiggy David hurling rocks at the Goliath of American oil companies, Gaddafi battled Islamic fundamentalists while imposing his own brand of murder and repression. Exit the Colonel was completed before the recent assassination of the U.S. ambassador, but Chorin probably wasn’t surprised given the post-Gaddafi violence he reports through the end of his account. (David Luhrssen)