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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 October 2013
For many years we heard and saw words and images depicting a country under the control of an erratic dictator, who controlled Libya with a rod of iron, and hatred filled rhetoric, and most of the world seemed to offer little support, comfort or physical assistance to save him and his regime from an internal uprising fueled by Western Allies. I cannot recall much worldwide sorrow when Muammar Gaddafi was dragged from a sewer tube like a frightened rat and crudely executed by his own people.

In her book "Gaddafi's Harem" special correspondent for Le Mode, and one of France's most admired journalists and author, Annick Cojean, reveals her meticulous research into another not as yet generally widely known aspect of this horrific man's evil characteristics namely his extreme sexual appetite fueled by massive a consumption of cocaine and viagra. His perverted actions knew no bounds of decency, or compassion, only excessive cruelty and brutality to scores and scores of young women and girls who were unfortunate enough to be 'ordered' and normally forced by his pimps and procuresses to his bed. Many of the unfortunates were very young girls whom he like the look of on visits to schools and universities, and were later rounded up by his lackeys, and taken to Gaddafi's compound, palace, tent or wherever this despicable dictator was staying.

The book tells the detailed and shocking story of one such girl called Soraya who was ripped from her family having been 'touched' by Gaddafi during a visit to her school when she had just turned 15, and was brutalized, raped, frequently urinated on, and kept a prisoner who was forced to 'surrender' to 'The Guide' as he was known by his sycophants, whenever called and this was frequently. Gaddafi did not limit his demands to her, but had many such poor girls on tap to satisfy his seemingly unsatisfiable sexual perversions. His desires were not restricted to females, as he kept a 'stable'of young boys for frequent visits, very often at the same time as one or more of his female 'sex slaves'.

He was totally obsessed with sex and the submissive control of women maintaining around him a large coterie of supposed personal guards known as The Amazons, but were also expected to perform other 'duties', high ranking people in his group who acted as arrangers of girls and women for his delectation, and many other accomplices and providers.

After Gaddafi's regime had been dismantled, the author spent a great deal of time searching out others who might have suffered similarly to Soraya, not only for collaboration purposes but to paint a fuller picture of this evil man's malign influence, and she also relates many of their stories.

This is a most harrowing story of unbelievable cruelty carried out on mainly young girls, where the threat of imprisoning and torturing brothers of girls who tried to resist Gaddafi's desires, was often made and carried out, until sexual submission was forthcoming. Gaddafi also extended his 'net' to the wives and daughters of other Heads of State, and their senior people, and by offering huge riches for favours seemingly had quite some success although on more than one occasion some very potentially damaging diplomatic incidents were brushed up against.

There cannot have been a more repulsive leader of a nation ever than Gaddafi, and I commend Annick Cojean for producing this excellent account, and whilst it makes the stomach tighten with revulsion it, perhaps appeases our consciences for the military action that erased this man from our planet.

A very good, highly readable but disturbing, excruciating book.
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on 8 November 2015
Let me be clear from the beginning; this book is little better than complete rubbish. I bought the Kindle version (99p) so I don't particularly care, but I had hoped it might offer some insight into The Colonel's evil world. It does, but minimally and with extremely suspect veracity.

So far I've only bothered to read the first part, the supposed first-person testimony of "Soraya", said to be a young girl kidnapped by Gaddafi aged fifteen and kept in sexual slavery for about 7 years. The first problem is that this account reads more like the language of a mature, second-rate, womens' magazine journalist. Now this could be partly, but only partly, on account of a couple of translations - nowhere did I see how this material was originated; does Annick Cojean speak Arabic? Was the conversation recorded or contemporaneously written down? Over what period? None of this would matter if the text read anything like plausibly - but it doesn't.

There are all kinds of false notes that make me deeply suspicious, even if I find it easy to envisage the noxious image of Gaddafi which it purports to describe. Many of the accounts of semi-public events at which Soraya was present read like transcriptions of television news coverage or figments of someone's imagination. How likely would Soraya have been to even know who Tony Blair was and how likely would he have been to say, on exiting The Colonel's tent, "Hi girls!" (in English? in Arabic?). On the sub-Saharan grand tour Soraya tells us that amongst the welcoming party in Mali were dancers in "Dogon masks" - betraying a knowledge of African anthropology one would never have suspected in a semi-uneducated Libyan girl. There are example after example of this sort of jarringly discordant note.

The book is remarkably boring too. Once one has recovered from the initially shocking brutality which is described there's little of any real interest, in fact given that the account covers almost 7 years it's remarkable just how little information it contains. I think that Annick Cojean has cobbled this book together from very sparse source material, in fact inventing much of the content.

At 99p the Kindle version is cheap enough for anyone who is interested in recent Libyan history, just don't expect to learn much. My last thought on this is just how much worse Libya is today (if indeed a unitary "Libya" actually exists any longer) despite the overthrow and summary execution of a perverted tyrant. We don't hear much about the "Arab Spring" any more do we? In every single case (Tunisia excepted - for the moment) each of these "democratised" states has suffered, and continues to suffer, far worse carnage since the overthrow of its dictator. But western governments learn nothing - in evidence I offer Syria.
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on 11 February 2016
This book gets 5 stars because of the bravery of the young lady who wrote it. In all other respects it's a terrifying memorial to a ruthless, vicious downright nasty man.We are spared very little detail by the author about the way Gaddafi treated her, indeed at times it was a difficult read given the fact that a number of UK politicians visited this beast. In the end the author feels cheated because Gaddifi was murdered before he could stand trial, but at least she no longer has to fear him.
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on 13 December 2013
You could actually visualise the torment and torture.
How could anyone let alone millions of people have been duped by Gadaffi. Why didn't anyone help these people.
At the end of the day it wasn't only women he abused but their families and men.
Due to their beliefs they were even outcast after all they had been through due to the shame they had brought on their families. They should have been nursed and praised for they put up with. Their suffering continues
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on 16 April 2014
An interesting account of Gaddafi's reign - thought provoking and upsetting to think that having had equality for so long in this Country that in places like Libya the women still don't have any of the freedoms we take so forgranted. Gaddafi was a brutal tyrant that got his just desert, but where is the justice for people like Soraya?
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on 7 January 2014
I read this book with interest to start with but my anger at the sadist swine, grew page by page.
Incredibly descriptive of the appalling situation that exists for women in Libya, and the attitudes of their families when the poor women (and girls) have been sullied by any man. It was a good read and a great exposure of how horrendous life can be for the sunservient in such regimes. I am not sure that much has changed since the demise of Gaddafi.
Generally easy to read and written to keep ones interest.
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on 14 May 2016
This is such a traumatic story, my heart goes out to this girl who had the courage to tell some of her story, and thanks to the brave reporter for telling it, that such a thing could happen in this day and age is unbelievable
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on 23 January 2014
A book that needs more world awareness.
Leaders of all countries should be questioned on how much they had known and were thereby complicit.
I holidayed in Libya a couple of months before the uprising and was surprised to see that most women in Tripoli only wore the scarf and not the veil.
However discussions with our driver showed complete hypocrisy. He bragged about his wild life in Spain but was not prepared to even let his brothers see his wife without a veil.
Sadly corruption will succeed and, as we see, 'democracy' will only be a path used to reinstate the next pig at the trough.
Is Libya now a free democracy. Soraya, unfortunately, will never get the justice or recognition for her bravery that she deserves.
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on 18 February 2014
I loved this book. I downloaded it onto my kindle and really struggled to put it down. This was a fascinating insight into this woman's world and I cannot believe what she and others went through at the hands of Gaddafi.
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on 10 November 2013
Very rambling and often repetitive. However a truly awful account of how vile Gaddafi was and what a corrupt human being he was
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