Libya: an academic treatment of a passionate history

Ronald Bruce St John chronicles Libya's journey from colony to revolution.

The Arab Spring dominated the media for much of last year; a chain of events, a set of circumstances, a series of uprisings that began in Tunisia and eventually led to Libya.

Surprisingly, though graffiti-marked posters of the deposed Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi feature heavily on the cover of Ronald St John's latest book, it reads like much more of an historical account than the latest entry to the ever-growing library of "Spring-lit" that continues to pour out into bookstores.

It is, instead, the journey from colony to revolution that Ronald Bruce St John charts, following Libya's humble beginnings as an agricultural region influenced by the ancient Greeks, to its years of occupation by the Italians and its subsequent rise as an oil-rich state.

Despite the sensitive issue of yet another outsider writing on the triumphs and turmoil of this war-ravaged state, Libya is one of the most detailed, objective pieces to have been published about the nation's sometimes illustrious, always interesting past. And while his textbook prose-style might be off-putting to some readers, others will find it hugely informative.