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Books

katharine whittemore

6 books on Moammar Khadafy and Libya

Moammar Khadafy apparently had a crush on Condoleeza Rice. “I love her very much,” as he told Al Jazeera. When his “African Princess,” as he called her, visited in 2008 (a couple of years after Libya was crossed off the state sponsors of terrorism list, having been on since 1979) he said he wanted to show her a video. “Uh oh, I thought, what is this going to be?” writes Rice in her 2012 memoir. But it was just various shots of her meeting with world leaders. “It was weird,” she recalls, “but at least it wasn’t raunchy.” While the pictures glided past, a song played, composed by Khadafy himself. The actual lyrics remain a mystery, but we do know the song’s name: “Black Flower in the White House.”

I lost count of the you-can’t-make-this-up moments in these new books on Libya. The Rice item, for example, was plucked from “Sandstorm: Libya in the Time of Revolution” (Penguin Press, 2012). Author Lindsey Hilsum, a British television editor and reporter, says Khadafy had a thing for Madeleine Albright too. He even asked a reporter to tell Madam Secretary that if she liked him back, then wear green (the color of Khadafy’s 1969 revolution) next time she was on TV. Can’t stop, won’t stop: Khadafy also decreed that Libyan soccer fans could only cheer for players by number, not name, since Khadafy didn’t want any rivals for the adoration of Libyans. In 2009, the “rehabilitated” ruler addressed the UN, ranting 90 minutes over his 15-minute allotment, until his interpreter broke down, shouting “I’ve had enough! I can’t take it anymore!”

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