If you are tempted by this book, please read Jefferson's War instead.
This book is an extremely detailed biography of William Eaton, and it is well-written with respect to historical detail and (presumably) accuracy, as it refers frequently to primary sources. However, it is too detailed in many ways and frustratingly lacking in providing a broader context to the events it describes. The narration is adequate, but the narrator's voice is definitely not suited to this story and several mispronunciations are grating. The author also seems intent on portraying certain characters (particularly Eaton and Bainbridge) in a certain light and ignores or downplays inconvenient facts.
The book Jefferson's War covers these same events, it starts earlier in time and describes the events more objectively and in a broader historical context. After listening to The Pirate Coast, I came across Jefferson's War and bought it to fill in the frustrating blanks left in my sense of this historical period. It did so very capably.
My reading and listening tastes are eclectic.
First, the reader does an excellent job with the material. I knew something of the shores of Tripoli, but I was completely unaware of the entire story. Wow! The political intrigues are staggering. The events related are nail-biting cliff hangers. The personalities of all involved are amazing. I listened to this twice in a row, because it was that intriguing. It is easy to see how these events in the past have influenced current relations in the Middle East and American policies towards piracy in Somalia. Listen and learn, a lot.
This book is an interesting historical account of William Eaton, a man I never knew about but who tackled amazing tasks under unbelievable circumstances. I am surprised that he doesn't hold a more well known place in history. The book does a good job of keeping my interest and giving an historical account of William Eaton's story.
No doubt American history is teeming with individuals who have virtually disappeared from history books but at one glorious moment held the nation in awe of their achievements. "General" Eaton was certainly one of those characters. This is his story. Although the author has an affinity for wandering off the subject to fill in some rather trivial details, it is Eaton's story and his alone that makes this a worthwhile listen.
I am so impressed by richard zacks research and writing that I am about to download his other book. If you like early American history and have wondered where the words "and the shores of Tripoli" came from in the Marine Corps' hymn. This book is for you.
The only negative part of this title I think listeners need to be aware of is the weak narration. The reader uses little inflection, then suddenly breaks into weird accents many of which are inappropriate to the nationality of the character he is portraying. That having been said I was so taken by the story and the history that I honestly didn't mind.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book and it provided a candid window into the disfunctinal proces of our democratic government. The lesson I learned is that regardless of the egos and politics, our government and country will prevail due to the patriotism audacity and daring of the American Spirit. May we never loose it!!
I can't believe that this story dragged us on for several hours while Eaton got his act together for his big mission and then just stopped before the mission was launched. Really a big disappointment.