Alison Pargeter states in the conclusion to this book that it would be difficult to define Libya as a country without illustrating its history in the context of its most infamous leader.
Pargeter begins with Libya's declaration of independence and the establishment of its doomed monarchy in 1951.
Muammar Gaddafi emerges as a charismatic leader after leading a coup against King Idris in 1969. From here onwards, Pargeter, a political analyst who specialises in the Middle East and North Africa, charts 40 years of the Gaddafi regime, describing the repression and strife endured by ordinary Libyans.
As a whole, Pargeter's book is an informative account of modern Libya's most turbulent era and acknowledges most of the atrocities committed by the regime - dubbed "Jamahiriyah" (state of the masses).
However, Libya sometimes reads more like a biography of Gaddafi the leader than an analytical examination of the country during his rule.
Pargeter also skims over the dictator's personal motivations in favour of outlining his many eccentricities.