(See below the blurb for my own commentary and contest info)
Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates:
The Forgotten War that Changed American History
by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger
This is the little-known story of how a newly independent nation was challenged by four Muslim powers and what happened when America’s third president decided to stand up to intimidation.
When Thomas Jefferson became president in 1801, America faced a crisis. The new nation was deeply in debt and needed its economy to grow quickly, but its merchant ships were under attack. Pirates from North Africa’s Barbary coast routinely captured American sailors and held them as slaves, demanding ransom and tribute payments far beyond what the new country could afford.
Over the previous fifteen years, as a diplomat and then as secretary of state, Jefferson had tried to work with the Barbary states (Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, and Morocco). Unfortunately, he found it impossible to negotiate with people who believed their religion justified the plunder and enslavement of non-Muslims. These rogue states would show no mercy—at least not while easy money could be made by extorting the Western powers. So President Jefferson decided to move beyond diplomacy. He sent the U.S. Navy’s new warships and a detachment of Marines to blockade Tripoli—launching the Barbary Wars and beginning America’s journey toward future superpower status.
As they did in their previous bestseller, George Washington’s Secret Six, Kilmeade and Yaeger have transformed a nearly forgotten slice of history into a dramatic story that will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next. Among the many suspenseful episodes:
·Lieutenant Andrew Sterett’s ferocious cannon battle on the high seas against the treacherous pirate ship Tripoli.
·Lieutenant Stephen Decatur’s daring night raid of an enemy harbor, with the aim of destroying an American ship that had fallen into the pirates’ hands.
·General William Eaton’s unprecedented five-hundred-mile land march from Egypt to the port of Derne, where the Marines launched a surprise attack and an American flag was raised in victory on foreign soil for the first time.
Few today remember these men and other heroes who inspired the Marine Corps hymn: “From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli, we fight our country’s battles in the air, on land and sea.” Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates recaptures this forgotten war that changed American history with a real-life drama of intrigue, bravery, and battle on the high seas.
A few years back, I’d read another book by these authors: George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution, and was quite smitten with it, not least because spy had been my very first ambition in life at age six (that and writing poetry). I also had a historian father who frequently told me tales of the American Revolution, and enjoyment of these legends has never left me. I later came to know of Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates and have been wanting to read it for a long while. So when I was shopping last Friday—experiencing one of those shopping moods in which you are determined to buy something, and in this case I was hungry for books—I came across and decided to buy it. I vaguely wondered when I’d have time to read it, given my stack of books and research obligations. Well, no worries, I reasoned, it’ll happen. Of course it will, my sarcastic inner self replied. Along with the other two high seas and Barbary Wars books shelved not far from your night table.
OK! OK! But I’m still getting it, I hissed to myself.
Not long after I returned home and was engaged in lovingly looking over my purchases (the true end of the shopping expedition, as opposed to simply getting in your car and going home) when a sudden stab in my awareness gave me pause to look at my American history shelf and…there it was. Propped proudly next to a George Washington biography stood my already-copy of, you guessed it, Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates. With the wonderful facsimile of Nathaniel Currier’s Tripolitan War, 1804 on the cover; cast of characters on opening pages; broad map of the then United States and Western Europe and North Africa with sailing corridors in between; periodic map sketches throughout (I love maps; they truly help appreciate the stories better); and an eight-page insert of color and black-and-white images, the book is equipped to tell a marvelous history.
Since I now had an extra copy, I decided to do a giveaway and, wonderful people, here we are. Unfortunately, sending books overseas is no longer the economical wonder it once was, and the costs are now prohibitive if one is manually sending off a physical book. Therefore, I have no choice in this instance but to limit winners to the United States. Never fear, though, I’m developing ideas for other giveaways, so stay tuned for more fun opportunities—wherever in the world you are. And, hey, feel free to comment here or any blogs at BtSS.
To get in on the contest, which will be a drawing, please comment below and you are automatically entered. Say hello, mention or talk about your favorite American history story, recommend a book—anything appropriate is welcome. (You may also comment at this Twitter link – FB link to follow) On Saturday, July 24, we will do a drawing and announce the winner. Please be sure to provide an email address in your comment (this is not visible to the public; please do not put your email address in the body of your comment) so I can notify you if you are the winner. At that time I’ll ask for your address to send the paperback via U.S. Mail.
Thanks for playing, peeps, and see you soon!