A Week in Books: A sick joke of a book

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The Independent Culture

John Blake, the former Sun journalist whose scandal-hungry imprint scored a huge hit with Jordan's "memoirs", is a very canny operator. He has chosen the perfect moment to release My Vision - a book of interviews with Muammar Gadaffi, supreme "Guide" of the Libyan people since the coup d'état in 1969, by a staggeringly sycophantic French academic, Edmond Jouve (Blake, £17.99). Western leaders are scrapping viciously for the best rugs in the Colonel's tent. Tony Blair paid his own visit in March 2004.

For Gaddafi has thrown compensation to the relatives of victims of the destruction of flights PanAm 103 (1988) and UTA 772 (1989), of the bombing of a Berlin club in 1986, and the murder of a London WPC in 1984; he has "renounced" terrorism, spurned all Islamists and cancelled weapons programmes. So Libya's tent now flaps open to strategically vital - and hugely profitable - technology imports and and oil exports. The Bedouin baron, whose agents - according to a Washington Post inquiry - plotted to assassinate the Saudi Crown Prince (now King) Abdullah as late as November 2003, is replacing his intended target as the West's best-loved desert despot.

Every deal-seeking boardroom in Europe will crave a copy of this book; Jouve reports that "280 British companies recently took part" in a Tripoli trade show. Not only will its lucky readers relish 100 pages of simpering tête-à-tête with the great thinker who, "after making the world tremble with fear" [ie by funding the killing of innocents], "now arouses respect and even praise". As a bonus, Jouve reprints Gaddafi's "Green Book", a wacky tract whose singular views of "sluggish" and "backward" "blacks" make Bernard Manning sound like, well, Charles Clarke.

As for terrorism, Jouve brown-noses his way doggedly through Gaddafi's sudden conversion to the way of peace and prosperity. Whatever its failures in Baghdad, "Shock and Awe" worked like a charm in Tripoli. However, Gaddafi and his Parisian boot-licker give no hint of an apology for past crimes in the decades when he "granted real, material and financial help to all sorts of revolutionary organisations... and liberation armies all over the world". In fact, they sound proud of the Libyans' power to start or staunch the flow of blood. So, in Northern Ireland, " acts of violence multiplied, until Gaddafi's decision to end his collaboration with the IRA". Precisely so. The Guide's guns and bombs have killed more UK citizens than al-Qa'ida and its amateur allies.

Were it not for all the grieving families, the tortured political prisoners, the publicly-executed dissidents, My Vision might rank as the finest bad-taste novelty gift of Christmas 2005. John Blake has published a sick joke of a book. What a shame that this grotesque eulogy of Britain's new best friend will never enjoy a run-in with the Home Secretary's sick joke of a law.

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