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John L. Wright
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John Wright begins his history of Libya as far back as prehistoric times and concludes with the fortieth anniversary of the Gadafi revolution. Wright briefly shares the story of the territory's early hunter-gatherers and the activities of its mid-desert Garamantian civilization. Then he travels briskly through the land's successive invaders: the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Muslim Arabs, Genoans, Normans, Spaniards, Knights of Malta, Ottoman Turks, and semi-independent Karamanlis. He traces the routes of the ancient trans-Saharan black slave trade, which involved ports in Tripoli, Benghazi, the eastern Mediterranean, the Balkans, the Aegean Sea, and the Levant, and he highlights Tripoli's nineteenth-century role in enabling European exploration of the desert.
Wright's modern history centers on the Italian era (1911-1943), addressing the harshness of Italy's long conquest yet giving credit to the material achievements of Air Marshal Italo Balbo. His fair and comprehensive overview enables a clearer understanding of subsequent events, which are covered in three chapters: Libya's largely passive role in the Second World War; 1951's fairly smooth transition to an early, internationally-brokered independence; the Sanussi monarchy, which reigned for eighteen years; the discovery and exploitation of oil in the 1950s and 1960s; and the post-1969 Gadafi phenomenon.
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