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Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War that Changed American History

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From the authors of the  New York Times  bestseller  George Washington’s Secret Six , the little-known story of Thomas Jefferson’s battle to defend America against Islamic pirates. Brian Kilmeade – cohost of “Fox & Friends” on Fox News and the national radio show “Kilmeade & Friends” – returns with another fascinating historical narrative, co-written with Don Ya From the authors of the  New York Times  bestseller  George Washington’s Secret Six , the little-known story of Thomas Jefferson’s battle to defend America against Islamic pirates. Brian Kilmeade – cohost of “Fox & Friends” on Fox News and the national radio show “Kilmeade & Friends” – returns with another fascinating historical narrative, co-written with Don Yaeger. Like their acclaimed bestseller George Washington's Secret Six, Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates sheds new light on a vitally important episode that has been forgotten by most Americans.   Only weeks after President Jefferson's inauguration in 1801, he decided to confront the Tripoli pirates who had been kidnapping American ships and sailors, among other outrageous acts. Though inclined toward diplomacy, Jefferson sent warships to blockade Tripoli and protect American shipping, and then escalated to all-out war against the Barbary states.   The tiny American flotilla—with three frigates representing half of the U.S. Navy’s top-of-the-line ships—had some success in blockading the Barbary coast. But that success came to an end when the USS Philadelphia ran aground in Tripoli harbor and was captured. Kilmeade and Yaeger recount the dramatic story of a young American sailor, Stephen Decatur, who snuck into the harbor, boarded the Philadelphia, and set her on fire before escaping amid a torrent of enemy gunfire.   Another amazing story is that of William Eaton’s daring attack on the port city of Derna. He led a detachment of Marines on a 500-mile trek across the desert to surprise the port. His strategy worked, and an American flag was raised in victory on foreign soil for the first time.     Few remember Decatur and Eaton today, but their legacy inspired the opening of 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 tells a dramatic story of bravery, diplomacy, and battle on the high seas, and honors some of America’s forgotten heroes. 


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From the authors of the  New York Times  bestseller  George Washington’s Secret Six , the little-known story of Thomas Jefferson’s battle to defend America against Islamic pirates. Brian Kilmeade – cohost of “Fox & Friends” on Fox News and the national radio show “Kilmeade & Friends” – returns with another fascinating historical narrative, co-written with Don Ya From the authors of the  New York Times  bestseller  George Washington’s Secret Six , the little-known story of Thomas Jefferson’s battle to defend America against Islamic pirates. Brian Kilmeade – cohost of “Fox & Friends” on Fox News and the national radio show “Kilmeade & Friends” – returns with another fascinating historical narrative, co-written with Don Yaeger. Like their acclaimed bestseller George Washington's Secret Six, Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates sheds new light on a vitally important episode that has been forgotten by most Americans.   Only weeks after President Jefferson's inauguration in 1801, he decided to confront the Tripoli pirates who had been kidnapping American ships and sailors, among other outrageous acts. Though inclined toward diplomacy, Jefferson sent warships to blockade Tripoli and protect American shipping, and then escalated to all-out war against the Barbary states.   The tiny American flotilla—with three frigates representing half of the U.S. Navy’s top-of-the-line ships—had some success in blockading the Barbary coast. But that success came to an end when the USS Philadelphia ran aground in Tripoli harbor and was captured. Kilmeade and Yaeger recount the dramatic story of a young American sailor, Stephen Decatur, who snuck into the harbor, boarded the Philadelphia, and set her on fire before escaping amid a torrent of enemy gunfire.   Another amazing story is that of William Eaton’s daring attack on the port city of Derna. He led a detachment of Marines on a 500-mile trek across the desert to surprise the port. His strategy worked, and an American flag was raised in victory on foreign soil for the first time.     Few remember Decatur and Eaton today, but their legacy inspired the opening of 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 tells a dramatic story of bravery, diplomacy, and battle on the high seas, and honors some of America’s forgotten heroes. 

30 review for Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War that Changed American History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    The positive: this book covers a very interesting period in US history and the writing style isn't bad. The negative: this is terrible history, not by what it includes but because of what it leaves out. Which either means the authors don't know American history very well or are being intentionally dishonest to sell a story. The intent seems to be to cast Jefferson as a modern Republican or Fox News pundit. A few illustrations: they make a point to draw attention to Jefferson's disdain for Islam The positive: this book covers a very interesting period in US history and the writing style isn't bad. The negative: this is terrible history, not by what it includes but because of what it leaves out. Which either means the authors don't know American history very well or are being intentionally dishonest to sell a story. The intent seems to be to cast Jefferson as a modern Republican or Fox News pundit. A few illustrations: they make a point to draw attention to Jefferson's disdain for Islam by pointing out that he relegated his copy of the Koran on his shelf with Greek and Roman mythology. See, he's just a good Muslim-hating Christian. But they fail to point out that he kept the Bible in the same category. He hated all organized religion and especially anything mystical. He cut his own bible up to remove all the miracles and anything referring to Jesus as God. He had no more contempt for Islam than any other religion including Christianity. A good history would point that out...this book hides that fact to make him look like the Fox News readers they are selling to. Bad history. Secondly, they attempt to point out how horrid it was that the pirates of the North African coast felt justified in kidnapping Christian sailors since they weren't Muslim. They used their religion to defend slavery...who can imagine?! Seriously, they try to portray the idea of slavery defended by religion as uniquely Muslim. They don't point out that the historical context was that a couple hundred miles down the coast Christian traders were taking kidnapped Africans across the ocean based on the same religious excuses...except from the Bible. It's not about one being worse than the other or one making the other okay. It's about terrible historical writing to be that dishonest about the reality of the times. Again, simply bad history. Third, the pirates of the Barbary coast are again cast as terrible thieves totally unique in their time and that way because of Islam. The authors report however that one of the American commanders, very glowingly in their report, got his start on the sea as a privateer...they conveniently don't explain what that is...it's a pirate. They leave out the fact that privateering was something all the nations of Europe and America itself were openly involved in...piracy on the sea against nations they felt like they could get away with robbing. Again, it's not about that being okay or "two wrongs making a right" it's about terrible and dishonest history. The pirates of the Barbary coast were bad and ultimately got what they deserved. But their piracy had nothing to do with Islam any more than Blackbeard had to do with Christianity. It was a reality of the times. That's just a start to give you a taste of the dishonesty. The authors try to cast Jefferson as an enemy of Islam and proponent of a strong military. The first idea I've already commented on. The second one is even more absurd. The Federalists, Hamilton as the strongest voice, WANTED a strong national military and navy. The Jeffersonians didn't. That was one of the main problems with the war of 1812 and the Federalist philosophy finally won out when the Jeffersonians were forced to admit that you couldn't wage war on a major scale without a real strong federal government military. These authors try cast the Federalists as somehow against a strong military and Jefferson as the force pushing for that military. Which isn't even historically debatable. They have tried to create Jefferson in their own image and it's very convincing...as long as you don't know actual history. I wouldn't care that much if I hadn't read so many positive reviews about the book with people super impressed how the book is supposedly such an amazing perfect fit for our current war with Islam...see, they say, it's always been like this and we need leaders like Jefferson. Not realizing that Jefferson was basically an atheist and anti-military. Hardly a guy who would get air time on Fox and Friends. However, a lot of people don't seem to want actual history but prefer it in their own image.

  2. 4 out of 5

    David Monroe

    Revisionist history to fuel Islamophobia. Islamophobia at its best. This book of American 'history' by the dumbest guy on Fox and Friends attempts to paint all 18th century Muslims as slavers and pirates. This is a blatantly dishonest attempt at revisionist history in order to put forth the lie that America has been at war with Islam since its birth. I'm so happy I was sent this in a bundle of other books by the publisher, because I'd have hated myself if I'd actually paid real money for this rac Revisionist history to fuel Islamophobia. Islamophobia at its best. This book of American 'history' by the dumbest guy on Fox and Friends attempts to paint all 18th century Muslims as slavers and pirates. This is a blatantly dishonest attempt at revisionist history in order to put forth the lie that America has been at war with Islam since its birth. I'm so happy I was sent this in a bundle of other books by the publisher, because I'd have hated myself if I'd actually paid real money for this racist shit. If Trump supporters read (I guess they can?) and they pick the one book they'll read this year, this book would be terrific pablum. It will feed and stimulate the dinosaur parts of their brains. Be afraid. Muslims. Boo. Now I have to take a series of Silkwood style showers, light some candles, and read some Howard Zinn.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Always Pouting

    I have a really loose grasp on history especially in terms of the timeline of events so I enjoy books like this that clear up the events happening at the same time in different places in the past. Also it's nice to get perspective on our relationship to other countries through our past with them and it really humanized those that came before us to read about their mistakes and successes. I really enjoy history books on less covered topics honestly. The only kind of eh thing was the authors "subt I have a really loose grasp on history especially in terms of the timeline of events so I enjoy books like this that clear up the events happening at the same time in different places in the past. Also it's nice to get perspective on our relationship to other countries through our past with them and it really humanized those that came before us to read about their mistakes and successes. I really enjoy history books on less covered topics honestly. The only kind of eh thing was the authors "subtle" endorsement of using this as a precedent of how to behave in the middle east today as if they aren't two different situations requiring thier own considerations.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rachael

    Book reads on a fourth grade level, diminishing complex subjects to good versus evil, hero versus coward, and Muslim versus Christian. It's pure, propagandized historic revisionism that demonizes Muslims, ridicules diplomacy, and applauds military agression...no wonder the back cover is filled with praises from military commanders and zero real historians. Maybe the author should keep made up stories where they belong: on his show on fox news. Thomas Jefferson and pirates are two of my favorite Book reads on a fourth grade level, diminishing complex subjects to good versus evil, hero versus coward, and Muslim versus Christian. It's pure, propagandized historic revisionism that demonizes Muslims, ridicules diplomacy, and applauds military agression...no wonder the back cover is filled with praises from military commanders and zero real historians. Maybe the author should keep made up stories where they belong: on his show on fox news. Thomas Jefferson and pirates are two of my favorite topics, but this book does both a disservice. I wish I had kept the receipt to return this absolute piece of shit.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    “America’s newfound prestige was not blinded by its own power; might and mercy could work in harmony.” My first memory of the story of the Barbary Pirates dates back to my childhood and a visit to the chain restaurant “Captain D’s”. Back then they had comic books with their children’s menu that reflected stories of the sea. One of those comics dealt with the Barbary pirates and America’s Navy. I was entranced, and my love of history was nurtured at an early age. As coincidentally was my love for “America’s newfound prestige was not blinded by its own power; might and mercy could work in harmony.” My first memory of the story of the Barbary Pirates dates back to my childhood and a visit to the chain restaurant “Captain D’s”. Back then they had comic books with their children’s menu that reflected stories of the sea. One of those comics dealt with the Barbary pirates and America’s Navy. I was entranced, and my love of history was nurtured at an early age. As coincidentally was my love for hush puppies and fried fish. So, when I saw “Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates” I picked it up. It is a pop history book, which is fine (I am sure there are much more scholarly texts) but as an overview of the Barbary Pirate Wars it is serviceable, and a nice introduction to anyone who does not know much about this oft overlooked issue from early American history. I like that the text’s main focus in on people (on both sides of the conflict) that a super majority of us have never heard of. The ones that most history books leave out. Like a lot of history, the topics covered in this book have had an after-effect much greater than the initial focus. The Barbary Wars may be a footnote in American history, but it is not minor. “Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates” is a lightweight text, there is a lot more I wish it had explored in depth. Lots of missed opportunities in this book. But, it is still an enjoyable read. “The only way to truly appreciate how special this nation is is to understand our past and the hurdles we had to clear to even exist.”

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob)

    I could not finish this book. I'm really glad that I borrowed this as an audiobook. If I would have read it, it may have taken me a bit longer to pick up on the overall tone. He spits out the word "Muslim" like it's poison. I could only listen to a few minutes of it before feeling rather uncomfortable. I could not finish this book. I'm really glad that I borrowed this as an audiobook. If I would have read it, it may have taken me a bit longer to pick up on the overall tone. He spits out the word "Muslim" like it's poison. I could only listen to a few minutes of it before feeling rather uncomfortable.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shaun

    I don't usually write reviews, but man. I really, REALLY wanted to like this book...the subject matter is fascinating. Unfortunately, the authors' melodramatic style and superficial approach to the events left me feeling like I was reading a book written for an elementary school's social studies shelf (or honestly, at times, a recruiting poster for the Marine Corps.) On the plus side, it's motivated me to seek out more...um...scholarly books on this episode in American history. I don't usually write reviews, but man. I really, REALLY wanted to like this book...the subject matter is fascinating. Unfortunately, the authors' melodramatic style and superficial approach to the events left me feeling like I was reading a book written for an elementary school's social studies shelf (or honestly, at times, a recruiting poster for the Marine Corps.) On the plus side, it's motivated me to seek out more...um...scholarly books on this episode in American history.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    Good story, bad history. Journalism may not be dead, but it’s on life support. It’s hard to know what to believe in; outside of the AP or Reuters, we don’t so much have news as we do commentary. Frequently everything reported is factual, BUT – not everything is reported. The omission of relevant and important information is as critical as the veracity of the reported event. So we come to Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates, by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger. I don’t watch Fox News or I would h Good story, bad history. Journalism may not be dead, but it’s on life support. It’s hard to know what to believe in; outside of the AP or Reuters, we don’t so much have news as we do commentary. Frequently everything reported is factual, BUT – not everything is reported. The omission of relevant and important information is as critical as the veracity of the reported event. So we come to Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates, by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger. I don’t watch Fox News or I would have recognized Kilmeade as he apparently has a show on that network. And this is not news – or at least it has not been news for over 200 years, but it is a history of the decades old confrontations between the fledgling United States and the Barbary nations, outposts of the Ottoman Empire. Kilmeade and Yaeger tell a good tale, a page turner about the North African pirates boarding vessels and taking captives who would later become slaves. We learn about diplomacy, failed and successful, about tribute payments, about rescues of captured citizens and horrific stories of what they endured in years of captivity. We have a hero in Thomas Jefferson, an erstwhile pacifist and intellectual who was compelled to beat plowshares into swords to stand up to the raiders. The authors also describe the lives and heroics of the sailors and marines who overcame great obstacles to defend their flag and countrymen. This is a good illustration of the development and evolution of our Navy and Marines and about the early days of our foreign policy. BUT! (in my best Joe Rogan impersonation) There’s a lot we don’t learn about and that is where this, as history, goes off the rails. This is not an in-depth exploration about the rest of the slave trade going on down the coast to which the American vessels are also a part. We don’t delve into the great and tragic irony of our hero Jefferson, champion of human rights – who owned slaves. We learn about the savagery and theological underpinnings of the Muslim pirates – but not about the more complicated socio-economic and cultural verities going on in that time and place. The great flaw here, as a history book, is that it is woefully one sided and it suffers because of that. Had the authors spent some more time with a bigger picture, and with a more objective lens, this still could have been a good book about heroic Jefferson and our fighting men far from home and on the shores of Tripoli (this conflict is the origin of that line) but also a more complete history and a better quality examination of this struggle. This is not so much Saving Private Ryan as it is Rambo. We’ve got heroes and villains and (SPOILER ALERT!) the good guys win. Still a good story, I enjoyed reading it, and would like to read more about this subject, I’d also like to read more about Jefferson and about his contributions, good and bad, to who we are now. This was fun and somewhat informative, but I’d like to read a better history.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    Interesting slice of history in which, unfortunately, most Americans – well, with the exception of U.S. Marines – are unfamiliar. Understanding how the pirates from North Africa’s Barbary coast (Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Libya, fka Tripoli) operated and how their actions affected early American commerce (1785-1815) helps to explain Muslims’ contempt for the West, especially the United States. Kilmeade’s (and Yaeger’s) book is a well-written, 200-page easy read. It does a good job explaining w Interesting slice of history in which, unfortunately, most Americans – well, with the exception of U.S. Marines – are unfamiliar. Understanding how the pirates from North Africa’s Barbary coast (Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Libya, fka Tripoli) operated and how their actions affected early American commerce (1785-1815) helps to explain Muslims’ contempt for the West, especially the United States. Kilmeade’s (and Yaeger’s) book is a well-written, 200-page easy read. It does a good job explaining why appeasement doesn’t work; more important, why it’s impossible to even negotiate with people who believe their religion justifies the plunder, enslavement and even killing of non-Muslims. Although it might have been 200 hundred years ago, the Barbary Wars serve as a clear harbinger of what radical Islamists want to impose on the West. [From the Halls of Montezuma/to the shores of Tripoli . . . ]

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steve Whitaker

    It was my mistake. I admit it. I didn't recognize the author's name when I bought the book. If I had, I doubt very much I would have still purchased it. Brian Kilmeade is a Fox News television host, and unfortunately appears to fit the stereotype that comes along with that role. The book presents a chronological overview of the First Barbary War, with very little analysis or insight. Its main feature is very thinly-disguised Islamophobia, drawing parallels between the conflict of the early 19th ce It was my mistake. I admit it. I didn't recognize the author's name when I bought the book. If I had, I doubt very much I would have still purchased it. Brian Kilmeade is a Fox News television host, and unfortunately appears to fit the stereotype that comes along with that role. The book presents a chronological overview of the First Barbary War, with very little analysis or insight. Its main feature is very thinly-disguised Islamophobia, drawing parallels between the conflict of the early 19th century and the current "War on Terror," which is both incorrect and dangerous. The First Barbary War had little, if anything, to do with religion - and everything to do with piracy and finance. Islam, at best, was seen as *foreign*, but not evil. Don't read the book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    What a great story ... I remember this as a very brief mention in one of my American history classes and, of course there is the line in the Marine Anthem ... but I had never known the full extent of this remarkable story. There are moments of pure comedy and actions that leave you shaking your head. This story takes place over almost 40 years and over many administrations. There are multiple failed attempts at diplomatic solutions, attempts to reduce the tribute, and continued acts of kidnapping What a great story ... I remember this as a very brief mention in one of my American history classes and, of course there is the line in the Marine Anthem ... but I had never known the full extent of this remarkable story. There are moments of pure comedy and actions that leave you shaking your head. This story takes place over almost 40 years and over many administrations. There are multiple failed attempts at diplomatic solutions, attempts to reduce the tribute, and continued acts of kidnapping and seizure of American ships which were then turned into pirate ships. After all this, 4 frigates are sent to put a stop the Barbary Coast attacks on American merchant ships. Then the machinations really begin. The individual stories of high and low behavior are priceless. I know that it's very easy to draw parallels to today's events, but I kept thinking of Lincoln's dilemma during the Civil War in which he had the forces assembled but could not find the right leaders for the fight. This book reads like a quick-paced adventure story rather than a heavy political/historical story. It's a nice collaboration between Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    Finished reading this book just hours before I started to hear about all the terrorist attacks in Paris.... if there wasn't more perfect timing to totally understand the mentality of these terrorists, this book puts things into perspective as what our founding fathers experienced in the early days of our nation the 1780s thru the early 1800s. Different players but same scenario. Hopefully our leaders or our new leaders will have either read this book or at least know the history! Otherwise we fac Finished reading this book just hours before I started to hear about all the terrorist attacks in Paris.... if there wasn't more perfect timing to totally understand the mentality of these terrorists, this book puts things into perspective as what our founding fathers experienced in the early days of our nation the 1780s thru the early 1800s. Different players but same scenario. Hopefully our leaders or our new leaders will have either read this book or at least know the history! Otherwise we face the fate of what Nostradamus has predicted as the future of our society.

  13. 4 out of 5

    L.A. Starks

    Great history of a little-understood time in American history. Side note: one of the French Quarter (New Orleans) streets is named Decatur, for--it turns out--hero Stephen Decatur.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Al

    Yet another case of a Conservative commentator with a book on the best seller means that it is the inevitable gift book coming my way. Okay, I know I am going to be biased by Kilmeade, but maybe not as much as you think. Unlike his contemporaries, I think the subject of Kilmeade's books to date are very interesting and unique. I don't remember if the Barbary Wars were taught in school. As a history buff, I knew about them, but let's be honest, it's a part of history that hardly gets covered. Also Yet another case of a Conservative commentator with a book on the best seller means that it is the inevitable gift book coming my way. Okay, I know I am going to be biased by Kilmeade, but maybe not as much as you think. Unlike his contemporaries, I think the subject of Kilmeade's books to date are very interesting and unique. I don't remember if the Barbary Wars were taught in school. As a history buff, I knew about them, but let's be honest, it's a part of history that hardly gets covered. Also given the co-writing credit, i suspect Yeager did the heavy lifting. (Reading the acknowledgements at the end of the book, Kilmeade points out that authoring books was a good career move for Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck, and one suspects that is his ambition) I largely suspect that the book was born from cocktail party conversation. "Hey, did you know the US had a war against Islamic terrorists and we went to Libya and fought battles in Benghazi, and the country wasn't even 50 years old?" Indeed, as you might suspect, Kilmeade paints the Barbary Pirates with an obvious brush. The Barbary Pirates ambition seems to be based off man's basest desires and a reading of the Koran as a source of conceit and barbarism, and painted in a way to suggest that nothing has changed in 200 years. One would probably not write a book about the Spanish inquisition and paint modern day Spain as anything different than those who ran things 500 years ago; or even writing a book about Germany and making the claim that the attitudes of modern day Germany has not evolved since 1945. One thing that the book could use is a quick history of how the Barbary States got that way. It does not need to be lengthy (even could be wikipiedia sized) but essentially we're just told they are evil. That's my problem with the book is that it is never sure whether to be a serious history book or an adventure read (and in that, it certainly reads more Young Adult than anything else). One suspects that the book may have originated in some cocktail conversation around the amazing and daring exploits of Stephen Decatur. Unfortunately in Kilmeade and Yeager's hands, there's not enough there to fill out an entire book. Which is my main issue with the book. It's short to be sure, but it's a clunky book with boring stretches. Hate O'Reilly's books on history if you want, but they're not boring reads. Jefferson hardly figures in. One assumes he's on the title because his name is there and he is a sexy choice. I am not an expert but I have read others criticisms that the book bypasses John Adams who is credited as "Father of the Navy" and passes along credit to the navy's expansion to Jefferson. This seems in line with making a better story as the authors credit Jefferson and downplay Adams- again, probably a conscious choice. Another criticism I have seen is that the book seems to use only a couple of journals as its reference, whereas most books would rely on many primary and secondary choices. While there's probably arguments for each, this could have benefited I am sure from more reference. The book really only covers the first Barbary War which leaves it finishing with an odd thrown together conclusion. I can only guess that would mean giving credit to James Madison for ending the war instead of Jefferson. Of interest, the book spends a great deal of time talking about a situation where the Americans were planning on backing the brother of one of the ruling despots and planning a coup (that does not seem to materialize). I am not sure if that's good politics (see The Shah) but it does give the author some chance to undo the demonizing that he did early in the book, and does some propagandizing the other way at the end- suggesting Christians and Muslims work together toward a common goal. Ultimately, i was not sure to give this one or two stars, usually reserving one star reviews for books I could not finish. Still, despite some potential spots of interest, I did not really end up taking much away from the book, and I suspect I will have largely forgotten its contents in a year. Once again, having a better experience reading what Wikipedia has to share on the topic, and getting it there without some obvious bias.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    An excellent, fairly quick overview of an overlooked portion of Thomas Jefferson's presidency & one of his many disagreements with John Adams. This is why the Marines have "Tripoli" mentioned in their song, but I had no idea how few actually participated in the battle. The diplomatic issues, lack of a navy, issues with Congress, & communication problems were all quickly & well explained. It was a fascinating story that never lagged nor confused me. This would be appropriate for teens & up. There An excellent, fairly quick overview of an overlooked portion of Thomas Jefferson's presidency & one of his many disagreements with John Adams. This is why the Marines have "Tripoli" mentioned in their song, but I had no idea how few actually participated in the battle. The diplomatic issues, lack of a navy, issues with Congress, & communication problems were all quickly & well explained. It was a fascinating story that never lagged nor confused me. This would be appropriate for teens & up. There's enough meat here to understand the situations, but not enough to bore. Very well narrated. I'm going to look for more by this author. I wish/hope he does one on the War of 1812.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bill Powers

    With his second historical book, Brian Kilmeade has proven he is a force to be reckoned with in writing American History. I highly recommend Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates for those interested in American History. Can't wait for Brian's next book! With his second historical book, Brian Kilmeade has proven he is a force to be reckoned with in writing American History. I highly recommend Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates for those interested in American History. Can't wait for Brian's next book!

  17. 5 out of 5

    YourLovelyMan

    Mediocre pop history peppered with American nationalism and Islamophobia. I read a lot about political leaders and a fair amount about pirates. Knowing nothing about the authors and their background, when I saw that my local library had this title, it caught my attention. And that's how they get you. Fortunately, they let you know what they're about right there in the introduction. This is the story of how a new nation, saddled with war debt and desperate to establish credibility, was challenged by Mediocre pop history peppered with American nationalism and Islamophobia. I read a lot about political leaders and a fair amount about pirates. Knowing nothing about the authors and their background, when I saw that my local library had this title, it caught my attention. And that's how they get you. Fortunately, they let you know what they're about right there in the introduction. This is the story of how a new nation, saddled with war debt and desperate to establish credibility, was challenged by four Muslim powers. Our merchant ships were captured and the crews enslaved. Despite its youth, America would do what established western powers chose not to do: stand up to intimidation and lawlessness. Tired of Americans being captured and held for ransom, our third president decided to take on the Barbary powers in a war that is barely remembered today, but is one that, in many ways, we are still fighting. Page one, and they're already blowing the dogwhistle. Impressive. Morbid curiosity kept me going for a while, but first I had to look into the authors' background. Would a serious historian really put this garbage to paper? No, but the Fox & Friends asshat host named Brian Kilmeade apparently would. Nice. The authors go on to construct a narrative of the US against Islam throughout the book, apparently able to read the minds of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson: Although he despaired of an easy solution, Adams wasn't ready to stop talking. He could understand the financial concerns, and he was already beginning to realize what O'Brien would later say of the pirates: "Money is their God and Mahomet is their prophet." That quote makes several appearances. Here's another favorite. Same page. According to his holy book, the Qur'an, Abdrahaman explained, "all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave." Christian sailors were, plain and simple, fair game. No further examination of the bad guy's motivation, and American / Christian equivocation to boot. And immediately following this is a gross misrepresentation of Jefferson's beliefs and attitudes: Jefferson tried to make sense of what he was hearing. He was familiar with the Muslim holy book. He had purchased a copy of the Qur'an during his days of reading law in Williamsburg twenty years before but found its values so foreign that he shelved the volume with books devoted to the mythology of the Greeks and Romans....The man who had written that all people were "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights" was horrified at Abdrahaman's religious justification. You won't hear from Kilmeade that Jefferson did the same with his bible and worse. Nor that Jefferson himself owned a community of African slaves in the largest slaveholding republic of its time. Islamophobic attitudes aside, the book is still not impressively written. The historical figures aren't well fleshed out, and the story is lacking the historians' equivalent of character development. Because of this, there's no reason to root for the Americans other than the nationalistic impulse. Nor is it clear what the Americans stood to lose from this fight, other than easier passage in the Mediterranean. It's a shame, because there probably is a good story to be told here. But this book misses the mark and was clearly written to encourage Islamophobia. Don't bother.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Don't let the two stars I awarded this book dissuade you, Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates was a very interesting account of the hostilities between the United States and the Barbary coast and the eventual war with Tripoli. While it held fascinating facts I was still disappointed with the one dimensional feel of the book overall and most of it had to do with how far these authors actually went to research it. Remember in high school when the teacher would require a minimum of five source Don't let the two stars I awarded this book dissuade you, Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates was a very interesting account of the hostilities between the United States and the Barbary coast and the eventual war with Tripoli. While it held fascinating facts I was still disappointed with the one dimensional feel of the book overall and most of it had to do with how far these authors actually went to research it. Remember in high school when the teacher would require a minimum of five sources when you wrote your history papers? The paper could be well written with just two, but by using many sources you could get a better and less biased picture of the event. I'm not saying that this was not a well researched book, but the entire thing seems to be a combination of US journals, government documents and letters. While these all painted a picture of the hostilities and how the US saw the conflict (and the middle east) I was surprised that more research wasn't done into the other players. Whatever is told about the Barbary coast, Tripoli officials and the role of Europe during this time came from mainly US writers and is very obviously colored by the original sources. I'm not in any way suggesting that Tripoli could be justified in capturing US merchant ships and enslaving their crews, but to look at this conflict as righteousness against evil/stupidity, which is often how it is presented here, is lazy when discussing historical events. This was a very quick read, just a few hours, much like a high school history lecture and very simplistic. I really hope that someone takes up this really interesting period in history and expands upon the research these authors have already done. A New York Times Groupies Member Read

  19. 4 out of 5

    Robert Barbantini

    A bit simplistic...almost like it was meant for young kids...but interesting. Shows, once again, how things in the past are mirrored in the present.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Was it a "forgotten war?" Not if you are a Marine! One of the most important actions of Jefferson's War with the Barbary Pirates was immortalized in the Marine Corps Hymn: "....to the Shores of Tripoli, we fight our country's battles in the air, on land and sea." This is a short and to-the-point book ( just over 200 pages) about America's first foreign war, in which Americans fought a war overseas for the first time. I had read about this war as a kid and still remember a lot about it. But autho Was it a "forgotten war?" Not if you are a Marine! One of the most important actions of Jefferson's War with the Barbary Pirates was immortalized in the Marine Corps Hymn: "....to the Shores of Tripoli, we fight our country's battles in the air, on land and sea." This is a short and to-the-point book ( just over 200 pages) about America's first foreign war, in which Americans fought a war overseas for the first time. I had read about this war as a kid and still remember a lot about it. But author Kilmeade brought out some details that I had either forgotten about or hadn't read about before. This is the story of America as a young nation being challenged at sea by four Muslim states of North Africa: Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. They not only captured American and European ships, but also made the sailors their slaves, demanding ransom payments for their release. Our first two presidents, Washington and Adams, followed the common European practice of paying tribute to the pirate states--but Jefferson, on becoming the third president in 1801, was prepared to send the Navy to war. The war turned out to be a very difficult one and there was a major disaster--in 1803, the USS Philadelphia was captured by the Tripolitan pirates after it ran aground outside Tripoli (in present-day Libya). What happened next is a story in itself which should never be forgotten. And that is Navy Lieutenant Stephen Decatur's daring night raid into Tripoli harbor to destroy the American warship that was in enemy hands. I would hope the good citizens of Decatur in my home state of Illinois know for whom their city is named! Kilmeade gives us the full story of the Marine attack on the Tripolitan fort of Derne, on "the Shores of Tripoli" that the Marines continue to remember. Amazingly, the attack came after an incredible 500-mile march from Alexandria, Egypt, led by the most remarkable "General" William Eaton. Eaton had put together a force of eight Marines, a Navy midshipman, ninety Tripolitans ( who were against the Bashaw of Tripoli) and a mercenary force of mostly Arabs and Greeks. With the eight Marines and one midshipman leading the way, Eaton's little army stormed Derne, captured it, and raised the American flag in victory on foreign soil for the first time. This book tells a story that should not be forgotten, a story of intrigue but also bravery. Today America has become a superpower--but we rely just as much as we ever did on the dedication and heroism of the men (and women now) who serve our country to protect it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    John

    A fun read, almost reminded me of a Patrick O'Brian novel. A very enjoyable way to learn about a lesser known episode in US history . I was highly suspicious of the slant of the book based on the main author, and there was surely a degree of that, but I didn't think it overrode the facts. The title perhaps over-emphasizes the role of Thomas Jefferson, but it makes a good "hook" to get people like me to read it. I do recommend it. Don't get too carried away with reading lessons about modern Middle Ea A fun read, almost reminded me of a Patrick O'Brian novel. A very enjoyable way to learn about a lesser known episode in US history . I was highly suspicious of the slant of the book based on the main author, and there was surely a degree of that, but I didn't think it overrode the facts. The title perhaps over-emphasizes the role of Thomas Jefferson, but it makes a good "hook" to get people like me to read it. I do recommend it. Don't get too carried away with reading lessons about modern Middle East policy into it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tom Lange

    This book really hooked me being the military history buff that I am. Not to mention being a Navy Veteran. It really is a lost section of our history that can really connect the dots to understand other events that occured in the same era and beyond. It amazes me our school system does not teach more about the events discussed. This book is a no brainer pickup if your into Military History or Early US History in any way. Don't let the reviews from those that truly just oppose the authers views o This book really hooked me being the military history buff that I am. Not to mention being a Navy Veteran. It really is a lost section of our history that can really connect the dots to understand other events that occured in the same era and beyond. It amazes me our school system does not teach more about the events discussed. This book is a no brainer pickup if your into Military History or Early US History in any way. Don't let the reviews from those that truly just oppose the authers views on modern politics pursade you away. No matter what side of the political fence your on. Have an open mind because the book isn't politically biased like some would make you think. When I read those reviews I am left wondering if they even read the same book or even finished it? One reviewer claimed it was the authors attempt to make Jefferson a modern Republican. Not once in the book was any connection made to such a thing. The book is zeroed in on one single event and issue of the day and does not discuss any other platform issues at all. Yet another reviewer claimed it was a modern conservatives viewpoint to display that "Diplomacy = Bad, War = Good". First, if you believe a conservative believes this, you show your hand that you have been missinformed by your media. The book through the events of history only show that Terror does not Equal Diplomacy and you can't have diplomacy if one side does not believe in such things. The book details that Diplomacy was always the first, second, seventh thing you try. If you can, always try diplomacy first. The Barbery States over and over used Diplomacy as leverage to gain wealth while disregarding every agreement we had agreed upon. They would take hostage and hold people for ransom like thugs. This is not Diplomacy or people you can have "lasting" or "real" Diplomacy with. Another reviewer didn't know the difference between Privateer's and Pirates, yet wanted to be a critic to the auther's "understanding" of history. History that is well sourced from ships logs, legislation on public record, biography's, and more. Oddly enough, everyone that said the writing was bad were also the same folks that decided to hit the author for being a conservative or a personality on Fox News. Interesting. That seems to be a pretty common in reviews for political books from those that disagree with the politics of the book. First, this book is not about politics. Second, the book is very well written. I consumed it very fast as it was packed with new knowledge and at times read like an adventure. Never did I have to take pause and re-read something because it was poorly written. It's not "4th grade level". Funny how when they hit you, it's always "4th grade level". Is it Hamlet? Hell no. Not every book is meant to be, and if every history non-fiction was written in poetic form, I would not know any history at all. That is just a silly arguement that makes one feel better by being an online bully. Most other hate reviews claim the book is just a form of hate speech Islamaphobia. From reading how they base that account is basically due to how they use the words Muslim or Islam at all. The only damning things said about Islam were things qouted from the Muslim leadership on why they would do what they did. That being said, my real question is, did they even finish the book or read it at all? The last half of the book is dedicated to the story of how Muslims and Americans fought TOGETHER to restore peace. To be placed under the leadership and RIGHTFUL rule of a good Muslim man. How alliances and friendships that for the most part have lasted until today when Muslim and Christian leaders sat down and agreed that both religions have simularities and both are religions of peace. If the book is anti-anything, it is anti-Militiant Islam Terror. If you come out of your safe rooms long enough to actually digest what the book is actually about, it is very interesting. The birth of our first Navy. The nations first battle on foriegn soil. The nations first steps in international diplomacy. The nations first display that we can take care of ourselves and we will if we have too. How personal relationships on a personal level have and had such an effect on global scales. The part that was the most amazing is learning of hero's that should be household names that even to a military history buff like myself, I had never heard their names let alone their exploits. Namely S. Decatur, in my mind was our first Frogman Special Forces operative. If this guy was not a Navy SEAL before we had SEAL's, I don't know who was. In the end, read this book and ignore your pre-set modern politics and issues with the author. Even more so if your into Military History.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Scott Rhee

    Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger’s second foray into historical nonfiction, “Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates” is, I’m not going to lie, a page-turner. I would be completely untruthful if I said that I wasn’t enthralled by the story, a piece of naval history of which I was not knowledgable. (This isn’t saying much, as I am not knowledgable about a lot of American history, sad to say.) It’s a riveting tale of a young country and a new president forced to make decisions that may give the new c Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger’s second foray into historical nonfiction, “Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates” is, I’m not going to lie, a page-turner. I would be completely untruthful if I said that I wasn’t enthralled by the story, a piece of naval history of which I was not knowledgable. (This isn’t saying much, as I am not knowledgable about a lot of American history, sad to say.) It’s a riveting tale of a young country and a new president forced to make decisions that may give the new country a legitimacy among its more experienced global partners or may backfire with painful repercussions that will be felt for centuries or may do both. It’s the story of Thomas Jefferson, who, before becoming the third president, was Secretary of State under President George Washington. As SecState, Jefferson dealt with international affairs and imbroglios. One of those imbroglios involved pirates from the Barbary Coast (the Northern African countries of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli---today, known (respectively) as Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya). Pirate ships from these countries would often raid American and European ships, stealing goods and even people to use as slave labor or ransom. More often than not, these Barbary Coast countries would force countries to pay a tribute---i.e. a “protection fee”---to prevent pirates from attacking. Paying the tribute, of course, was no guarantee that they wouldn’t attack, and for countries like the U.S., which as a fledgling democracy had limited funds to begin with, the tribute could often be more than what they earned in trade. It was a lose-lose situation. Unfortunately, President Washington was against the formation of a navy, as he felt the country was still reeling from the Revolutionary War. Putting money into warships, he felt, was money that could be spent elsewhere. Jefferson disagreed, but his voice would be in the minority for several years, until his election in 1801. The build-up of the U.S. Navy was a risky move on Jefferson’s part, as many people still felt as Washington felt. Jefferson deemed it necessary, however, and after several humiliating and tragic incidents, history would prove Jefferson right. Kilmeade/Yaeger’s book is well-written and exciting. I don’t have a problem with the book’s facts, mainly because I’m not a historian. Here’s the thing, though: neither are Kilmeade and Yaeger. In the right hands, this book could have been a tremendously valuable examination of the importance of the military, the proper time and place to use military force, of our country’s early entanglement with Islamic nations and the reverberations that our dealings with the Barbary Coast nations had in modern-day African and Middle Eastern Islamic states, and our nation’s sordid history in supporting leaders to gain footholds in regions for political and monetary gain. In Kilmeade/Yaeger’s hands, however, the book reads like propaganda. Of course, it reads like it because it is propaganda, plain and simple. Here’s one way to tell: try to find any mention, anywhere in the book, of the fact that Jefferson owned slaves. Indeed, had an affair with one of his slaves. Hell, try to find any mention of the fact of the slave trade at all, which was a significant percentage of the American trade routes in the Mediterranean. It’s almost offensive how easily Kilmeade/Yaeger gloss over anything to do with slavery and the treatment of black slaves, especially in a book which attempts to garner sympathy for white Americans being kidnapped by Muslim pirates to be used as slave labor. Their last book, “George Washington’s Secret Six” didn’t feel like it was pushing a particular agenda. It may have, but it didn’t feel like it. This one clearly does, and it’s obvious that Kilmeade (a member of the FOXNews family) is using this esoteric (albeit fascinating) historical event to parallel the modern-day conservative platform of promoting a strong military budget in order to defeat the rise of Islam. But don’t take my word for it. He says it, plain and simple, on page 203: “Most important, here in the twenty-first century, the broader story---the great confrontation between the United States and militant Islamic states---has a new significance.” I love history. I love how history shows us how people and events and differing viewpoints throughout the years shape our culture and make us learn about ourselves. What Kilmeade/Yaeger have done, though, is try to shape events to fit our current culture. It’s the opposite of history, actually.

  24. 4 out of 5

    SeaShore

    'It rests with Congress to decide between war, tribute, and ransom as the means of re-establishing our Mediterranean Commerce.' ----Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, December 30, 1790. He returned to Virginia in November 1789 after being away for five years. President George Washington had chosen him to be this newly created post, even though Jefferson was in Europe at the time. As Secretary of State,(1790-1793) he would have to administer the entire government. He stayed for Martha's wedding in 'It rests with Congress to decide between war, tribute, and ransom as the means of re-establishing our Mediterranean Commerce.' ----Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, December 30, 1790. He returned to Virginia in November 1789 after being away for five years. President George Washington had chosen him to be this newly created post, even though Jefferson was in Europe at the time. As Secretary of State,(1790-1793) he would have to administer the entire government. He stayed for Martha's wedding in Monticello then traveled to New York to join the government. On March 22. 1790, they discussed the plight of Richard O'Brien and his men. Their capture had been a pressing situation to Congress for quite some time. Both Houses of Congress considered Jefferson's reports, titled, 'Prisoners at Algiers' and "The Mediterranean Trade'. Jefferson was against a ransom but would support the navy's action- in other words, war against the pirates. washington and Jefferson did not see eye-to-eye on most issues. Meanwhile, a new attack by Algerian ships started- October 1793. The growing wealth of the United States caught the attention of the pirates. More captives taken speeded up the debates. But not until February 1794, would strategies be put in place. Madison and the Republicans against the Navy idea; Jefferson and the Federalists supporting the Navy, especially as imported goods were getting more expensive. The compromise: Build six frigates at a cost of $688, 888. 00. Three years later, by 1797, they were still building and the ransom for peace was done instead. Jefferson had resigned, retired to Monticello at the end of 1793. 1797, Joel Barlow is now ambassador to Algiers. As consul he gave Algiers some $27, 000. worth of gifts and succeeded in purchasing peace. Joel Barlow returned to the United States leaving the originally ship captain captive to be consul in Algiers. James Leander Cathcart (another captive) was also made United States consul to Tripoli (1798). It is important not to rush into things. Now there are a few more U. S. consuls added, including William Eaton chosen by Secretary of state, Timothy Eaton. O'Brien welcomed Cathcart and Eaton and encouraged them to ignore American instincts and to trust his instincts about the Barbary rulers. The purchased ransom peace was becoming more fragile and even with signed treaties, not all the Barbary rulers were on board. Fortunately, George Washington continued to build warships. Captain William Bainbridge at age 24 got caught in a predicament as he sailed in the USS George Washington to Tripoli to pay tributes. He decided at the end of the torment that the best tribute was through a cannon. Th Uss George Washingtn was turned into a zoo ship and slave ship as it was sent back and forthe to Constaninople (now Istanbul). The Algiers powers proved not to be trusted. Meanwhile back home, Thomas Jefferson beats his friend John Adams and is inaugurated as president on March 4, 1801. And you can imagine, he is going to be active on the barbary Coast. Settling into his new home and reviewing what Adams had done, he learned the current situation in Algiers, Tripoli, Tunis. He was amazed at the annual $20,000 tribute as well as delivery of a barrel of gunpowder everytime an American ship went by the Barbary coast. William Bainbridge commanded the USS Constitution to victory redeeming his previous failures with th USS Washington and USS Philadelphia. He died at age 59 in 1833. President Thomas Jefferson retired at Monticello, had a severe fever on July 3rd and died the next day. Interestingly enough, his friend and rival, President John Adams also died on the same day, in Massachusetts, neither knowing that the other was close to death. Adams wanted to buy peace. Jefferson dispatched a small U.S. Navy Squadron to the Mediterranean and won.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Frank Stein

    It's sloppy and a little tedious and doesn't even try to give both sides of the stories or battles, but the book is still worth reading because there's an incredible story inside it. Beginning in 1785, dozens of Americans began to be captured each year off the "Barbary Coast," the Southern coast of the Mediterranean, which hosted four self-avowed pirate nations, Morocco, Algiers, Tunisia, and Tripoli (today's Libya). These nations subsisted off a steady diet of "tribute" paid by wealthy nations t It's sloppy and a little tedious and doesn't even try to give both sides of the stories or battles, but the book is still worth reading because there's an incredible story inside it. Beginning in 1785, dozens of Americans began to be captured each year off the "Barbary Coast," the Southern coast of the Mediterranean, which hosted four self-avowed pirate nations, Morocco, Algiers, Tunisia, and Tripoli (today's Libya). These nations subsisted off a steady diet of "tribute" paid by wealthy nations to prevent capture of their ships, and ransom from the nations or ships that couldn't pay in advance. Once America lost the umbrella of the British empire, these nations captured American merchant ships and put the men to slave labor on their rulers' (alternately known to the West as beys, deys, or bashaws (the author's don't even try to learn their actual Arabic names)) palaces and work sites. Beginning in 1792, Congress authorized tens of thousands of dollars to buy-off the rulers and release the captives, and began signing treaties with them in 1796. But also, in 1794, encouraged by former Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, they started a navy, at first six frigates of up to 44 guns, to fight the pirates. When one of those frigates, the USS George Washington, was sent both to pay tribute and to demonstrate American prowess in 1800, it was turned by the pirates into a ferry for sheep and camels to Constantinople. Finally, in 1801, now President Jefferson sent four ships to the Mediterranean to fight. The next year, after authorization by Congress, he sent more. By 1804 they had suffered some losses and inflicted some, and one William Eaton had led men on a six hundred mile march to capture a town just East of Benghazi, with the help of a disaffected relative of the ruling Tripolitan leader. But they still had to pay tribute to rescue even more captives caught in the battles and reestablish peace. In 1815, they finally returned to finish off the Barbary Coast once and for all, and, this time, a mere display of might did it. The authors play up this story as part of an old conflict between the "Muslim world" and a rising American empire, but do nothing to see what it was like on the other side. Even if we should celebrate the American victory here, it would help to know about their opponent. Nonetheless, the book brings back a forgotten but important story, and a few stirring scenes.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I didn't realize until after I read it that this was written by the brown-haired-guy-who's-not-Steve-Doocy...I never thought I'd read a book by a Fox and Friends host, but here we are. It was a quick read, and served the purpose of telling me a bit about something I really knew nothing about. I probably would have a firmer understanding had I just read a Wikipedia article, though. And it is odd that anyone could write how the slavery of the American prisoners was particularly humiliating to them I didn't realize until after I read it that this was written by the brown-haired-guy-who's-not-Steve-Doocy...I never thought I'd read a book by a Fox and Friends host, but here we are. It was a quick read, and served the purpose of telling me a bit about something I really knew nothing about. I probably would have a firmer understanding had I just read a Wikipedia article, though. And it is odd that anyone could write how the slavery of the American prisoners was particularly humiliating to them given that they come from "a country established upon the ideal of personal liberty" and not think, hey, maybe I should include one word to indicate that slavery existed anywhere else in 1800. Did the guy in the title of my book own slaves? Could that possibly be relevant to my book about those crazy Muslims and their fondness for slavery? But setting that curious willful blindness aside, this was just boring, superficial, and poorly-written.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Doris Jean

    I do recommend this book for anyone interested in history or the military or nationhood or government. I wanted to give it a higher rating because of the importance of this subject which seems to be almost omitted from basic American history education. But I see the actual writing in this book as a good first draft, maybe it was written by more than just Kilmeade and Yaeger since there were many disconnections and missing links. Maybe too much teamwork? The characters needed more development, ma I do recommend this book for anyone interested in history or the military or nationhood or government. I wanted to give it a higher rating because of the importance of this subject which seems to be almost omitted from basic American history education. But I see the actual writing in this book as a good first draft, maybe it was written by more than just Kilmeade and Yaeger since there were many disconnections and missing links. Maybe too much teamwork? The characters needed more development, many were thinly described and too shallow. I liked the photographs. A time line would be helpful since some of the dates were elusive. I was confused on page 182 where it says : "Tripolitan captain...surrender....James (referring to James Decatur, Stephen Decatur's brother) stepped aboard the captured vessel....treacherous captain.... shot him at point-blank range. The young lieutenant , struck in the forehead, tumbled into the sea between the two craft." Then it says "A dishonorable act left a brave officer, his life in the balance, bleeding on the deck". Was he in the sea or on the deck? The book needs to be rewritten and fleshed out with more detail. On page 184, it says "Stephen said upon the expiration of his brother, "I would rather see him thus than living with a cloud upon his conduct." I could not understand what cloud would be on James's conduct. James was boarding a surrendered captured ship when its treacherous captain had wrongfully shot James in the forehead, James did nothing wrong. After Columbus discovered the New World and took gold back to Spain, other countries also began plundering the New World. In the 1500's, 1600's and 1700's Spanish, Portugese, English, French, Dutch and muslim ships were carrying and capturing from one another tons of gold and silver. (When a country openly sponsored a pirate ship, the pirates were called "privateers".) These countries started the sugar plantations in the Caribbean, and then the tobacco plantations in what was to become America, and even later cotton plantations after Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin. (1793). All these plantations needed labor, so slaves were a most valuable asset along with the gold and silver. In 1790 piracy was rampant and it was open lawless war on all ships in the ocean. Captured ship passengers and crew were ransomed or slaughtered or sold as slaves. America had just become a new country. George Washington was cautious of more war and when pirates captured American ships if no ransoms, tributes, bribery and protection money were paid Americans would become dead or slaves. The new America was bleeding out money to the muslim pirates of the Barbary North African coast of Algeria, Tunisia, Tripoli, Benghazi, Derne. The new American country was not able to continue to pay the large ransoms and tributes. An American ship, the Philadelphia, with over 300 passengers had been captured in 1803 by the muslim pirates. The pirates were known to be brutal to their captives, starving them, flogging them, torturing them and arbitrarily putting them to death at will. It was obvious that America could easily lose these 300 men to death or slavery, and more would be lost in the future, so war was unavoidable. A navy was needed. Thomas Jefferson was in office at the time and this book covers a few of the battles and political manipulations until the Philadelphia was finally recovered in 1805. However, not all of the captured passengers survived the barbarous captivity. There is an interesting side story of treachery by a jealous consul who diplomatically sabotaged the military victory of the recovery of the Philadelphia. The story of this traitorous diplomat deserves a book also. The Barbary coast pirates were finally eradicated in 1830 when the French occupied Algiers. If this book were re-written and expanded I would read it again.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Judd Vance

    I figure folks are going to like or hate this book based on their political affiliations and love/hate of Fox News. I have no dog in this fight as I do not watch it and vote 3rd party. This was a gift to me and I was interested in learning something about the topic. So now that that is out of the way, on to the book. Did I learn something? Yeah. I knew next to nothing about the topic. I now understand the reference to Tripoli in the Marine's Hymn. The writing style is probably considered "narrativ I figure folks are going to like or hate this book based on their political affiliations and love/hate of Fox News. I have no dog in this fight as I do not watch it and vote 3rd party. This was a gift to me and I was interested in learning something about the topic. So now that that is out of the way, on to the book. Did I learn something? Yeah. I knew next to nothing about the topic. I now understand the reference to Tripoli in the Marine's Hymn. The writing style is probably considered "narrative" history, but this is not up to the quality of, say, Walter Borneman or Allen Eckert, writers who narrate history to various degrees. This reads like a news cast -- and trust me, I'm trying to be neutral in regards to Klimeade's day job. As an example, you are reading a chapter and it ends with something that feels like, "Little did he know his dreams were about to sink to the bottom of the Mediterranean along with his ship. Du-du-du!!! [dramatic music], stay tuned after these messages..." I'm being a bit over-the-top, but you get the point: that stuff just pisses me off. If I am well versed on the topic, I won't be reading a light book like this. Instead, I am going to go for a more scholarly approach. But since I didn't know the topic, I didn't want the next chapter spoiled. That's half the fun of reading history. So these antics are a sore spot with me. The next problem concerned some historical errors. I spot errors all the time in basketball history books I read. I get that. It's a niche topic. I have learned to live with it. But I don't want factual errors in my U.S. history. I am not a scholarly historian, but I do consider it a passion. That is why I read it instead of write it. If you are going to write it, you should be versed enough in the topic to not make some of the errors I see here. For example, Kilmeade/Yaeger talk about the death of Thomas Jefferson's daughter and how Abigail Adams' sympathetic letter started the reconciliation between Jefferson and her husband John Adams. On the contrary, the letter continued the festering. How do I know this? Because I am an avid reader Joseph Ellis books. Anyone writing on the founding fathers should know that you should be familiar with Ellis' writings, as he is one of the foremost modern authorities on the topic. This tidbit I mention is not obscure information and a minimal amount of research turns this up. Admittedly, this factoid is a throwaway point compared to the topic in the book. However, hitting more closely to home, the authors seem like they have a need to paint Jefferson as a superhero of American history, who supported war while the cowardly John Adams wanted to dismantle the navy. Um, actually, that's close to OPPOSITE of the truth. Yes, he is on Mt. Rushmore, but Jefferson was hardly infallible. Again, the main part of the story is the naval action in the Mediterranean Sea, but getting the political background right is foundational to the story. So the history has some shoddy parts in it. It wasn't a deal-breaker in terms of the main part of the story, but there is a little too much, "Rah, rah, 'Merica!" in it. 200+ years after the fact, just report the facts, ok? The ending was a bit unsettling, also, in terms of passing judgement on Tobias Lear and painting him as some type of mustache-twirling villainous diplomat trying to ruin the righteous war. What happened at Derne was pretty amazing, but let's face it, frontal assaults do not have a particularly good record of success. The battle cost 28% of the U.S. Marine force and they still had to take Benghazi and Tripoli and Sidi Hamet did not seem to inspire followers. I didn't get Kilmeade/Yaeger's book on Washington's spy ring because I already read Alexander Rose's book on the topic and he's pretty much the authority. I see my choice was confirmed. I have read some of Yaeger's sports books, namely his George Karl and Walter Payton book. I would recommend those, but I will probably steer clear of his attempts at American History. I don't regret reading this: it was quick and I did learn something, but put in the hands of someone like Walter Borneman, this would have been a lot better (and more accurate).

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I drew a lot of parallels between the past and the present while reading this. Here are one or two: P 16 (paragraph relating argument between statesmen John Adams & Thomas Jefferson) "Adams disagreed. He believed. . . . . unless We determine to fight them forever." *We make the same arguments now that Adams & Jefferson made in 1789 Muslim pirates took prisoners, enslaving them. Barbary states demanded tribute. European nations paid. America did not and were more likely to be taken prisoner. Today, I drew a lot of parallels between the past and the present while reading this. Here are one or two: P 16 (paragraph relating argument between statesmen John Adams & Thomas Jefferson) "Adams disagreed. He believed. . . . . unless We determine to fight them forever." *We make the same arguments now that Adams & Jefferson made in 1789 Muslim pirates took prisoners, enslaving them. Barbary states demanded tribute. European nations paid. America did not and were more likely to be taken prisoner. Today, Muslim groups (many under protection of their govt) take Western hostages demanding ransom. European countries will pay (or do not deny citizens to pay) ransoms. America has policy of not paying ransom to terrorist organizations. Jefferson called the paying of tributes or ransoms a "purchased peace." As soon as America got rid of its navy, there became a need for it. In the end, the Pirates and Barbary coast leaders recognized and respected the strength of our navy and actions taken to fight them at their own game on our own terms. Current leaders (ahem, namely those of the liberal persuasion) would do well to learn from history. The leaders (and terrorist) from the same region STILL respect strength. Sadly, though, our own pattern of making promises in that region but then later reneging on those promises also began in those days with our first dealings as a nation with the people of that region. Over-all a very good read, one that we would all do well to take a look at.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    In the 1700’s and early 1800’s pirates or corsairs raided along the Barbary Coast (off what are now Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. The pirates raided merchant ships of any country that did not pay tribute to local rulers. Prisoners were held for ransom or turned over to their allies the Ottoman Empire as slaves. Before Washington was President, Jefferson and Adams were sent to London to negotiate with the Pasha of Tripoli to no avail. The Envoy told Jefferson and Adams that Islam was order In the 1700’s and early 1800’s pirates or corsairs raided along the Barbary Coast (off what are now Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. The pirates raided merchant ships of any country that did not pay tribute to local rulers. Prisoners were held for ransom or turned over to their allies the Ottoman Empire as slaves. Before Washington was President, Jefferson and Adams were sent to London to negotiate with the Pasha of Tripoli to no avail. The Envoy told Jefferson and Adams that Islam was ordered by their belief to destroy all non believers so the United States needed to pay or die. The United States did not have much money and the Navy of the American Revolution had been disbanded. The idea was to have each colony depended upon civilian militia. The Congress finally was persuaded to form a Navy of six frigates. On May 10, 1801 the United States had not paid tribute so the Pasha of Tripoli declared war on the United States. A small Navy squadron joined the Swedish Navy in a blockade of Tripoli. The book goes into detail about the war. The book is well written and well researched including personal diaries as well as government documents. The book is only about five hours so can be read in one sitting. When finishing the book I felt nothing has really changed in the Middle East and this was only the first encounter of a long war. Most of the European countries have been in this fight much longer than the United States. I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. I found the narrators style of reading exhausting. Brian Kilmeade narrated the book.

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