Sandstorm by Lindsey Hilsum


12 Critic Reviews

Hilsum diligently works through Gaddafi's grandiose schemes and jumbled reign


Over a quarter century, the renowned British international correspondent Lindsey Hilsum has covered crisis and conflict around the world. In February 2011, at the first stirrings of revolt, she went to Libya, and began to chronicle the personal stories of people living through a time of unprecedented danger and opportunity. She reported the progress of the revolution on the ground, from the conflict of the early months, through the toppling of Gaddafi’s regime and his savage death in the desert. In Sandstorm, she tells the full story of the events of the revolution within a rich context of Libya’s history of colonialism, monarchy and dictatorship, and explores what the future of Libya holds.

Sandstorm follows the stories of six individuals, taking us inside Gaddafi’s Libya as events unfold, change accelerates, and those who had never before dared to speak, tell their stories for the first time. We see the dynamics of the insurrection both from inside the regime and through the eyes of the men and women who found themselves starting a revolution. Woven into her account is a revelatory exposé of the dysfunctional Gaddafi family, the scale of whose excesses almost surpasses belief. She tells the stories of Libyans who lived in the United States or Europe, but went home to risk everything to provide secret intelligence, or commit daring acts of civil disobedience, to bring the regime down, knowing that the punishment if caught would be torture and death.

The fall of Gaddafi, who was for forty-two years the great autocrat-madman on the world stage, is among the past decade’s most dramatic pivot points. In Lindsey Hilsum, it has found its definitive chronicler.

About Lindsey Hilsum

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Lindsey Hilsum is the international editor for Britain’s Channel 4 News and appears regularly on PBS’s NewsHour, CNN, and NBC. She lives in London, England.
Published May 31, 2012 by Penguin Books. 315 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Sandstorm
All: 12 | Positive: 11 | Negative: 1


May 01 2012

Hilsum diligently works through Gaddafi's grandiose schemes and jumbled reign

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Below average
Reviewed by Ian Black on Apr 27 2012

But there is disappointingly little about decision-making in western capitals or how it was coordinated with the wealthy and ambitious Qataris,

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San Francisco Chronicle

Reviewed by Roger Owen on Jul 30 2012

Lindsey Hilsum...has written a more personal, gossipy and in many ways random account that is often truer to the spirit of the messy, confused and sometimes farcical character of the Khadafy regime

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The Daily Beast

Reviewed by Nicholas Mancusi on Jun 05 2012

The effect is that the book is more than the definitive document on the fate and future of a nation—it is a history and a snapshot of a people.

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Reviewed by Nicholas Shakespeare on Apr 14 2012

Well-written, beautifully paced, with an understated command of the complex background, plus a humour as dry as Libya's desert wind

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The National

Reviewed by Hugo Berger on May 05 2012

to date this might be the definitive account of how Qaddafi met his demise.

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New Statesman

Reviewed by Isabel Hilton on Apr 25 2012

Hilsum’s account is essential (and accessible) reading for anyone who seeks to understand where Libya has come from and what the future might hold.

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The Spectator

Reviewed by Eugene Rogan on Apr 14 2012

Her sharp analysis and careful piecing together of the story endow her work with qualities that will prove of lasting value to students of Libya’s 2011 revolution.

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Think Africa Press

Reviewed by James Maxwell on Aug 15 2012

it provides an engaging – and often dispiriting – analysis of a revolution which turned sour.

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The Tripoli Post

Reviewed by Huda Biuk on Apr 26 2012

This book is an essential read for unfamiliar outsiders with an interest in the Libyan conflict, as well many Libyans who, up until last year's uprising, hadn't seen their own struggles expressed in words.

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Africa News And Analysis

Reviewed by Keith Somerville on Apr 17 2012

As a good journalist, Hilsum conveys atmosphere, feeling and explanation, placing Libyans at centre stage, not herself.

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Publishers Weekly

Apr 30 2012

Though it’s too soon for a definitive account of the Libyan revolution, Hilsum’s early assessment is a timely first draft

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