Understanding Libya Since Gaddafi

Ulf Laessing

Laessing’s fast-paced, on-the-ground narrative reveals what really happened in the run up to and aftermath of Gaddafi’s ouster.

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Understanding Libya Since Gaddafi Paperback
June 2020£17.99
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Why has Libya fallen apart since 2011? The world has largely given up trying to understand how the revolution that toppled Muammar Gaddafi has left the country a failed state and a major security headache for Europe. Gaddafi’s police state has been replaced by yet another dictatorship, amidst a complex conflict of myriad armed groups, Islamists, tribes, towns and secularists. What happened?

One of few foreign journalists to have lived in post-revolution Tripoli, Ulf Laessing has unique insight into the violent nature of post-Gaddafi politics. Confronting threats from media-hostile militias and jihadi kidnappings, in a world where diplomats retreat to their compounds and guns are drawn at government press conferences, Laessing has kept his ear to the ground and won the trust of many key players.

Understanding Libya Since Gaddafi is an original blend of personal anecdote and nuanced Libyan history. It offers a much-needed diagnosis of why war has erupted over a desert nation of just 6 million, and of how the country blessed with Africa’s greatest energy reserves has been reduced to state collapse.


Ulf Laessing is Reuters' bureau chief for Egypt and Sudan. He has reported on Libya since 2011 and was one of the few foreign correspondents reporting from Tripoli between 2013 and 2015.


‘This frank, fascinating account highlights the difficulties and dangers of press reporting from post-Gadafi Libya. It reveals how and why political, economic and social anarchy dominates a country where rival armed militias are “still the true rulers”.’ — John Wright, former chief political commentator and analyst of the BBC Arabic Service, and author of A History of Libya and Libya, Chad and the Central Sahara 

‘Ulf Laessing is widely recognised as one of the most astute observers of post-Gaddafi Libya. He has traveled throughout the country, reporting in dangerous conditions. A must-read, this volume offers an informed, objective, and balanced account of Libya’s current travails.’ — Ronald Bruce St John, author of Libya: From Colony to Revolution and Libya: Continuity and Change

‘Ulf Laessing’s book is a fascinating account of the chaos in Libya following Gaddafi’s overthrow. It is a necessary book for all those who seek to understand Libya today.’ — Luis Martinez, author of The Libyan Paradox

‘Ulf Laessing blends analysis and on the ground observation to produce an outstanding account of why Libya remains mired in chaos today—his book will undoubtedly remain the go-to in order to understand Libya’s enduring problems and complexities.’ — Dirk Vandewalle, Associate Professor of Government, Dartmouth College, and author of A History of Modern Libya