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This book examines the socioeconomic and political development of Libya since independence in 1951 with a focus on the four decades of revolutionary rule which began in 1969. Following a brief look at pre-independence Libya, it explores the way in which the fragility of the post-independence state, unable to contain rising Arab nationalist struggles and growing economic expectations, opened the way for the Free Unionist Officers led by Muammar al-Qaddafi to seize power. It then traces the progressive development of the revolutionary state through four stages: the consolidation of power to 1973, the projection of power to 1986, withdrawal and retrenchment to 1999, and the redefinition of the state after 1999. In following this outline, the emphasis in each chapter is on the post-1999 period, highlighting the issues facing the contemporary state along with possible solutions.