Liberating Libya

British Diplomacy and War in the Desert

Rupert Wieloch

This book covers the British involvement in Libya from 1692 until the 21st century.
Date Published :
December 2021
Publisher :
Illustration :
40 photographs
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781636240824
Pages : 288
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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This book covers the British involvement in Libya from 1692 until the 21st century.

Free Libya! was the chant heard throughout Libya during the Arab Spring revolution that ended with the death of Colonel Gadaffi in October 2011. The story is about British involvement in Libya since the first treaty signed with the rulers in Tripoli in January 1692. The book is divided into four eras. The first covers the period up to the Italian invasion in 1911; the second covers the First World War and Italian pacification; the third covers the Western Desert Campaign; and the final part brings the reader up to date with recent events. In the words of the Foreign Secretary, Edward Grey, the 1911 Italian invasion of Libya “led straight to the catastrophe of 1914”. Using memoirs of politicians and correspondents from both sides of the conflict, the author pieces together British involvement, shedding new light on the Senussi Campaign and the Duke of Westminster’s rescue of 100 British PoWs at Bir Hakkeim, as well as the story of Colonel Milo Talbot, who did as much as TE Lawrence to establish British influence with Arab leadership, but was never rewarded for his work. Even though hundreds of books have been written about the Western Desert Campaign, this book includes much unpublished material in addressing the contentious issues and explains why General Brian Horrocks wrote: “Command in the desert was regarded as an almost certain prelude to a bowler hat”. The final part of the book begins with Britain’s operations to establish Libya as an independent kingdom and the rise of nationalism that led to Gadaffi’s coup in 1969. The story of the tense relationship with the Brotherly Leader during the “Line of Death” era and subsequent rapprochement precedes an authoritative account of the 2011 revolution. The final chapter, brings the reader up to date with the current conflict as well as the migration crisis and the Manchester Arena bombers.

About The Author

Rupert Wieloch is perfectly placed to write about Libya. He was appointed as the Senior British Military Commander before Gadaffi was captured and killed, he had privileged access to the new Libyan government and drafted the first Defence White Paper forthe Libyan Chief of Defence in 2012. He was the first foreign representative to visit Tobruk after the revolution, establishing the basis for a multi-million pound international contract to refurbish the airport and military base at El Adem. He led the immediate response after the Islamic attack on the British war graves in Benghazi and was present at the Battle of Bani Walid, known as the start of the second civil war. His previous books are Belfast to Benghazi and Churchill’s Abandoned Prisoners (Casemate), which was long-listed for the 2020 Wolfson History Prize.


Part 1 – A Hard Place To Live
Chapter 1 – Greek Settlement to Barbary Coast
Chapter 2 – American Hostages
Chapter 3 – British Consuls and Explorers
Part 2 – Reluctant Colony
Chapter 4 – British Journalists and the Italian Invasion
Chapter 5 – Senussi Jihad
Chapter 6 – Talbot of Tobruk
Chapter 7 – Lion of the Desert
Part 3 – Nine Victoria Crosses
Chapter 8 – Churchill, Wavell and O’Connor
Chapter 9 – Siege of Tobruk
Chapter 10 – Auk’s Triumph
Chapter 11 – Rommel’s Return
Chapter 12 – Special Forces Agreement
Chapter 13 – Advance To Tripoli
Part 4 – Fateful Freedom
Chapter 14 – Kingdom to Jamahiriya
Chapter 15 – Pariah State to Arab Spring
Chapter 16 – East v West


"One of the strong points of this book is in highlighting many of the forgotten campaigns and skirmishes of British soldiers and war heroes."

- Aether: A Journal of Strategic Airpower & Spacepower

"... a competent and engaging book for those wishing to learn a little more about a fascinating region and Britain’s role in it..."

- Journal of Military History

"Rupert Wieloch’s important addition to the historiography of the British relationship with Libya will find a welcome place on the bookshelf of those studying British and Libyan military and diplomatic history."

- The Strategy Bridge

" extraordinarily informed and informative study..."

- Midwest Book Review

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