Sunday, December 6, 2015

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History by Brian Kilmeade, Don Yaeger

5 of 5 stars  *****

This is a great book that describes the details of America's war with the Barbary Coast pirates of North Africa as the fledgling United States of America struggles to become a serious, prosperous country. This listener/reader's knowledge about this war is from high school history but, now, with this Audible Audio version of the book, a deeper understanding and appreciation for the sequence of events in the days of slow communication enlightens this reviewer to the sacrifice and bravery of the men who are willing to give their lives to secure freedom and safe passage of US merchant ships to trade with the rest of the world. 

Patriots who love the country from which their freedom and liberty derive, face an enemy that is the antithesis to the new Christian nation. This enemy is composed of Corsairs, pirates who are part of the Ottoman Empire, a Caliphate, who terrorize any ship that sails the southern coast of the Mediterranean from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Blackmail, butchery, and barbaric slavery intimidate nations into making this treacherous foe wealthy and powerful. European countries like Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Spain are willing to pay ransom for captured seamen or submit to coercion that brings the fickle leaders of Algeria, Morocco, Tunis, and Tripoli large sums of money, jewels, weapons, warships, cattle and anything else they demand. 

The United States becomes a paying member to this group for years under Washington, Adams, and Jefferson's presidencies. The obstacles in the way to confronting this formidable enemy are: a difference of opinion among America's leaders, financial debt that inhibits building a Navy and a force capable of defeating this enemy, and cooperation of Congress. 

It is Thomas Jefferson who listens to the men who have a history with the Barbary Coast and the pirates, themselves, before he decides to confront this nemesis who humiliates the United States in its first attempts to make peace with them. This is the body of the story where the details display the failures due to poor leadership, weather, and supplies, as well as the courage of those who turn the tables on the Corsairs and eventually create the safe shipping lanes for the United States and establish the young North American country as a force with which to reckon.

It is sobering to read this book and realize that the United States of America faces this enemy once again. The enemy is no longer the Corsairs but, rather, jihadists looking to serve a Caliph in a new Caliphate. The fanatical barbarism is the same ideology that perverts freedom, liberty, and everything for which the United States of America stands.