Libya in the Time of Revolution

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Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781101583593
  • 352 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


Over a quarter century, the renowned British international correspondent Lindsey Hilsum has covered crisis and conflict around the world. In February 2011, at the first stirrings of revolt, she went to Libya, and began to chronicle the personal stories of people living through a time of unprecedented danger and opportunity. She reported the progress of the revolution on the ground, from the conflict of the early months, through the toppling of Gaddafi’s regime and his savage death in the desert. In Sandstorm, she tells the full story of the events of the revolution within a rich context of Libya’s history of colonialism, monarchy and dictatorship, and explores what the future of Libya holds.

Sandstorm follows the stories of six individuals, taking us inside Gaddafi’s Libya as events unfold, change accelerates, and those who had never before dared to speak, tell their stories for the first time. We see the dynamics of the insurrection both from inside the regime and through the eyes of the men and women who found themselves starting a revolution. Woven into her account is a revelatory exposé of the dysfunctional Gaddafi family, the scale of whose excesses almost surpasses belief. She tells the stories of Libyans who lived in the United States or Europe, but went home to risk everything to provide secret intelligence, or commit daring acts of civil disobedience, to bring the regime down, knowing that the punishment if caught would be torture and death.

The fall of Gaddafi, who was for forty-two years the great autocrat-madman on the world stage, is among the past decade’s most dramatic pivot points. In Lindsey Hilsum, it has found its definitive chronicler.


Sandstorm is a passionate but measured account of why the battle for Libya happened, how it played out and what may be yet to come. By hanging the distressing but often inspiring stories of a group of Libyans around the central figure of the colonel, she gives a rounded and readable snapshot of extraordinary change in a closed country that few international journalists could claim to have known well before last year’s events.”—Financial Times

“A nearly incredible, fantastical tale of the rise and fall of the ‘mad dog’ of Libya…demonstrates not only the criminal megalomania of Gaddafi and his pernicious network of nepotism but also the venality and hypocrisy of the West that kept him in power until the bitter end. A fitting, clear-eyed send-off to an infamous dictator.” —Kirkus

“As well-paced and exciting as it is authoritative, Sandstorm is an epic account of the revolution that swept Muammar Gaddafi from power. Written by one of the finest war correspondents of our time, this is a must-read first draft of history.” —Jon Lee Anderson

“Lindsey Hilsum’s powerful book is both a history of one of the world’s most bizarre regimes and an unforgettable account of Gaddafi’s rapid decline and fall. If only all revolutions had such intelligent and observant witnesses. Her prose is all the more effective for being restrained. She is also clear-eyed about the challenges facing Libyans after forty years of relentless repression by a corrupt family dictatorship. Essential reading.” —Misha Glenny, author of McMafia and The Balkans

“No reporter was better placed than Lindsey Hilsum to tell the story of Libya’s revolution, and she has not failed. She gives us both a compelling account of the rise and fall of one of Africa’s most grotesque despots and a portrait of how ordinary citizens set about the task of toppling a regime. This is a kaleidoscopic, humane chronicle of how political convulsion is lived by real people…Hilsum’s writing is as lucid, nuanced and intelligent as her pieces to camera, and the pages fly through one’s hands.” —Michela Wrong, author of In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz