Book Review: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates, by Brian Kilmeade & Don Yaeger


Click the image above or the following link to view and purchase Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates by Brian Kilmeade

I love to read and intend to publish a brief blog article about any book I complete that is worth recommending. I tend to gravitate towards personal and business development books for some strange (and nerdy) reason, but lately have had a renewed interest in reading books about American history and the ideals upon which The United States of America was founded.

This particular book by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger is one I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone with a curious interest in learning about what I would consider a lesser known "war" in America's infancy; shortly after her establishment. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, American passenger and merchant vessels were increasingly being targeted and terrorized by pirates from North African countries; the Barbary States. 

The majority of the action and subject matter for this book takes place, not off the east coast of America, but rather in the waters off of southern Europe and northern Africa. The illustrated maps in the book are helpful and add more realism to the true events as they are told by the authors, and the geographic border of the nations in that time period.

It was both fascinating and disheartening to read about the real struggles faced by these early Americans and the unfortunate treatment they received after being captured by the pirates. This is not a book of in-depth details of the many tragedies of this conflict; it would have not been possible to elaborate on every point of issue. Yet enough information is shared to gain an understanding of what transpired and how important it was for America to protect it's citizens and it's budding economy and trade routes. 

While George Washington would have nobly preferred, according to the book, to not meddle with foreign affairs, nor to maintain a Navy, it became quickly apparent to Thomas Jefferson and others that showing strength on the seas and a willingness to go to war, if necessary, was important in securing the safety of America's people and in maintaining the freedoms that were so hard-fought to establish.

I think the thing that really inspires me about the series of events described by this book, is the evidence that had America not taken a stand against these pirates in the manner that they did, and had they not come out triumphant in the end, the American story as we know it today could have turned out to be a very different one. Those early years in the Country's establisment were utterly critical in the sense of creating security for the citizens while demonstrating to other world powers that we would not simply sit idly by while groups or governments sought to exercise control or coercion over our people or our economy. 

It was a keen awareness of the dangers that existed on the open seas, the social, political and economic ramifications of these dangers, and the importance of proper planning in order to mitigate future risks and, more importantly, to free those who had been captured by the barbaric pirates of the Barbary Coast. 

The bravery and wisdom demonstrated by many involved in this unique conflict is to be admired and respected. While others who could have made a strong impact and contribution will unfortunately go down in history as nothing more than selfish cowards who were not fully dedicated to the cause. This book illustrates compelling examples from both ends of that spectrum. 

The first deployment of "Marines" was also described in this war and they played a crucial role in the outcome as well. This book is a fun and educational read that feels more like an adventure novel than a piece of historical non-fiction.

I wanted to quote a few paragraphs from the end of the book because I liked them so much and feel that they help to embody what the conflict was all about.

"Individually and collectively, pressidents Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe (and future president John Quincy Adams) had come to recognize that, at times, military force was necessary to ensure national dignity and to protect the nation's interests. They had learned that in some quarters and at certain times, diplomacy alone was simply not sufficient to maintain peace. And they had learned that it was worth spending money on a military, since American lives were at stake.

Many men and women suffered in captivity before America's intervention rid the world of North African piracy, but their suffering was not in vain. After centuries of piracy along the Barbary coast, only the exercise of military strength had succeeded in ending the state-santioned practice of terror on the high seas. The lesson was not lost on America. The young nation gained from this chapter the courage to exercise its strength in the world, and it would remember that lesson in the future when other innocent lives were at stake."

I am proud to be an American and deeply grateful for the countless men and women that have worked and fought to establish, preserve and defend the incredible freedoms that we enjoy each day.

Since completing this book I've purchased copies of Kilmeade's "George Washington's Secret Six" as well as some books on the War of 1812. If you have any excellent American history books to recommend, please share them in the comment section below and I will add them to my reading list. Mahalo!

Click below or on the following link to view and purchase Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates by Brian Kilmeade

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Munro Murdock is an Entrepreneur, Athlete, Real Estate Broker, Blogger, Father, Author, World Traveler and Podcaster. He resides on West Oahu in Hawaii with his wife and three children. You can Contact Munro by email here.