I have recently finished the exciting Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War that Changed American History by Brian Kilmeade. When you hear the fight song for the Marines and the line “…and the shores of Tripoli…” — this is what the book is referring to. And quite honestly, that is all I knew of the subject and nothing more. I bought this book thinking “Okay so we sent some marines to Tripoli at some point”. When, how, and why…No clue.
As it turns out, it is incredibly fascinating and has had far reaching effects on foreign policy.
In the early days of the United States, we had begun to establish trade routes across the Atlantic. Unfortunately, piracy from the north of Africa was common place and many American sailors were captured and held for ransom. The famous Adams / Jefferson rivalry actually extended towards the strategy on how to deal with these pirates. Adams favored a more diplomatic approach and Jefferson preferred to destroy them militarily.
How the events unfolded over a decade between America and the savages of north Africa make for a compelling story. The book outlines in great detail the mishaps, successes, strategies, politics, espionage, backstabbing, and military heroics of the conflict. The book reads like a novel — 100% recommend.