Book details

Exit the Colonel

The Hidden History of the Libyan Revolution

By Ethan Chorin

  • ISBN13: 9781610391719
  • Pub Date: 10/23/2012 | Price: $29.99 / $34.50 CAN
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Trim: 6.50 x 9.50 Inches | 384 Pages
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About the Book

In Exit the Colonel, Ethan Chorin, a longtime Middle East scholar and one of the first American diplomats posted to Libya after the lifting of international sanctions, goes well beyond recent reporting on the Arab Spring to link the Libyan uprising to a flawed reform process, egregious human rights abuses, regional disparities, and inconsistent stories spun by Libya and the West to justify the Gaddafi regime's "rehabilitation." Exit the Colonel is based upon extensive interviews with senior US, EU, and Libyan officials, and with rebels and loyalists; a deep reading of local and international media; and significant on-the-ground experience pre- and post-revolution.

The book provides rare and often startling glimpses into the strategies and machinations that brought Gaddafi in from the cold, while encouraging ordinary Libyans to "break the barrier of fear." Chorin also assesses the possibilities and perils for Libya going forward, politically and economically.

About the Author

Ethan Chorin was U.S. economic/commercial attaché in Tripoli from 2004-2006. He has continued to work on Libyan issues as business developer for a multinational company based in Dubai and as cofounder of the Avicenna Group, an NGO helping to build a trauma center in Benghazi. The author of Translating Libya: The Modern Libyan Short Story, he is currently a Social Enterprise Fellow at the Yale School of Management. He lives in Berkeley, California.

Reviews

“The best recent book, I think, to go beyond the cult of personality to the traumatized but brave Libyans themselves… He met many countrymen, learned much, and all this adds grit and gravitas to his later ‘Exit the Colonel.' I felt especially enlightened, for instance, by his coverage of the country's east-west split.”
Journal of North African Studies
“Organised chronologically, Chorin combines diplomatic memoir, political history and shrewd analysis to offer what is arguably the most detailed account to date of the regime's final years… Chorin's account is highly informative, his observations are sensible, and his diplomatic experiences are fascinating. ..This book sheds unveils the workings of the regime during its final years, and reveals its internal tensions and power struggles (particularly among his sons), reforms and brutalities, and western sycophancy in equal measure. Even for Libya specialists, it is highly informative and provides what is thus far the definitive account of the West's reconciliation with and re-alienation from the regime and provides immediate context to its downfall.”

Montreal Gazette
“Exit the Colonel: The Hidden History of the Libyan Revolution is a timely, if rushed, affair…For me, it is Gadhafi's erstwhile rehabilitation that is the most intriguing part of the book.”

Dirk Vandewalle, professor of government at Dartmouth College and author of A History of Modern Libya
"Of all the accounts written so far about Libya's revolution, none can match Chorin's sophisticated and penetrating analysis of the country and of its former quixotic ruler.  An insider's account, Exit the Colonel details the events leading up to the revolution, and reveals the larger context within which Libya's uprising eventually took shape.  Relying on an unmatched variety of sources and on extensive in-country experience, Chorin's book will undoubtedly remain the best analytical work on Libya and its revolution for a very long time."

Retired Ambassador Joseph Wilson, author of The Politics of Truth
“Ethan Chorin brings a unique perspective to his riveting tale of the rise and fall of Muammar Gaddafi: Exit the Colonel.  Having served as a diplomat in Tripoli at the time of Gaddafi rapprochement with the West, Chorin tells the story of how the West wound up allied to the ‘mad dog of the Middle East' and facilitated Gaddafi's rehabilitation, which was key to his fall.  This is an exquisite and scary story of greed, intrigue, and political corruption at the highest levels of several nations, including the US and the UK.  For anybody interested in international relations, or for anybody whose paths, like mine, crossed Gaddafi's several times, this is a must-read."

The National“What caused such radical policy changes in the region? This is the intriguing question the Middle East scholar Ethan Chorin tackles in his detail-rich book Exit the Colonel.”  
Libya Index “A concise analysis of past, present and future effects of Gaddafi's regime.”

Shepherd Express (Milwaukee)“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.”

Boston Globe

Middle East
“This book demonstrates how Gaddafi was soon to reap the whirlwind, as his feints toward reform actually engendered a revolutionary movement that proved all too real and powerful to be put down.  Ethan Chorin provides a look into the near and long-term roots of the Libyan uprising and explains why the revolution happened as it did before exploring the longer-term consequences for Libya and the West.”

International Affairs
“The information taken from personal interviews with key Libyan and non-Libyan players occasionally provides new insight and fresh perspective to policies and events in this period… Chorin provides the most authoritative and detailed analysis of the February 17 Revolution published to date.”

Sugar Street Review“Chorin had plenty of first-hand insights into the workings of the previous regime, and gives a highly readable and accurate account of what lead Libyans to rise up in February 2011. Crucially, Chorin is also an aficionado of Libyan literature, and he illustrates his account with excerpts from the country's finest writers.”