Praise for Broadway in Benghazi
“A smart, heady, fascinating memoir unlike any I have ever read, just as Anna is
a writer unlike any I have ever met—brilliant, lively, deeply informed and involved
in everything from music to world literature, international politics and history, to
grassroots arts programs, family life, and avant gardening. Hers is a warm, bright
spirit and a lively intellect. A natural born storyteller, Anna’s search for truth and
meaning reveals a world where absurdity reigns supreme. There are many stories to
tell, from Mama’s nighttime visitation by E.T., to Amina’s invincible spirit, Tanya’s
heartbreak at the O2 café, the bravery of Asma and Libya’s daring female activists,
and The Tripoli Players on tour in Benghazi . . . until violence and terror stop the show.
Broadway in Benghazi is a remarkably original and moving memoir.”
—Lee Smith, New York Times best-selling author
On the eve of the 2011 Arab Spring, Anna Linvill, an Arabic linguist and promising young singer, learns that her husband, Lt. Colonel Brian Linvill, has received orders to be the Defense Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya. Leaving her dreams in long-term storage, Anna packs up her two young children and her musical scores and follows Brian into Gaddafi’s Libya. In an historic setting of breathtaking natural beauty, Anna finds crumbling theaters, burned pianos, and a complex, creative civilization suffocating under decades of cruelty, fear, and civil neglect. Corruption is rife, Gaddafi's brutal henchmen and all-seeing eyes are everywhere, human trafficking and wife buying is commonplace, innocent looking teenage girls are daring dissidents, and there are no rules— until you cross the wrong person. In Gaddafi's Libya, it is every man for himself.
Upon arrival, Anna and Brian join The Tripoli Players, an amateur theater group known for their risky, red-line crossing, cream pie throwing, singing and dancing filled musicals lampooning the Gaddafi regime. When they are hired to put on a touring Broadway review for the U.S. Embassy, the Tripoli Players become part of a complex diplomatic drama. They are stunned when the 2011 Arab Spring sets revolutionary fires across the Middle East, eerily echoing one of their most daring comedies. After the fall of the Gaddafi regime, it looks like the good guys have won, but soon, comedy turns to tragedy. The U.S. Ambassador, Chris Stevens, is murdered and Libya descends into civil war and anarchy. Soon, Anna, Brian, and the Tripoli Players learn that offstage, there is a fine line between a villain and a hero, and a tyrant lives inside each and every one of us, waiting for his cue.
About the Author
Anna Linvill is a former Arabic linguist with a passion for opera and musical theater. After more than 20 years of war, adventure, and diplomatic drama, she and her husband, two children, and Libyan cat, have put down roots in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Anna has previously written about the plight of migrants in Libya for Newsweek International and now works in Duke University's Rethinking Diplomacy Program. She holds a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Oklahoma.