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The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, The First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805 | [Richard Zacks]

The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, The First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805

After Tripoli declared war on the United States in 1801, Barbary pirates captured 300 U.S. sailors and marines. President Jefferson sent navy squadrons to the Mediterranean, but he also authorized a secret mission to overthrow the government of Tripoli. He chose an unlikely diplomat, William Eaton, to lead the mission, but before Eaton departed, Jefferson grew wary of the affair and withdrew his support.
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Publisher's Summary

After Tripoli declared war on the United States in 1801, Barbary pirates captured 300 U.S. sailors and marines. President Jefferson sent navy squadrons to the Mediterranean, but he also authorized a secret mission to overthrow the government of Tripoli. He chose an unlikely diplomat, William Eaton, to lead the mission, but before Eaton departed, Jefferson grew wary of the affair and withdrew his support.

Astoundingly, Eaton persevered, gathering a ragtag army, including eight U.S. Marines, and leading them on a brutal march across 500 miles of desert. After surviving sandstorms, treachery, and near death from thirst, Eaton achieved a remarkable victory on "the shores of Tripoli", as commemorated in the Marine Corps Hymn. His triumph gained freedom for the American hostages and newfound respect for the young United States, but for Eaton, the aftermath wasn't sweet. When he dared to reveal that the president had abandoned him, Jefferson set out to crush him.

©2005 Richard Zacks; (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

"Zacks has researched thoroughly, writes entertainingly, and shows a knack for sea stories and characterization. This is the book that Captain Eaton has long deserved." (Publishers Weekly)
"Zacks does an expert job of explaining the diplomacy and machinations of the U.S. government....Where Zacks excels is in his research, quipping asides, and loving grasp of the subject" (Kirkus Reviews)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (379 )
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3.9 (107 )
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  •  
    Stewart Kennedy 08-12-05 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
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    "EXCELLENT"

    I am a huge fan of the Patrick O'Brian novels and have been looking for authors that write about that time period fiction or non fiction. This book hit the mark. It is well researched and well written. The authors meticulous research and writing style will lend itself well to educating future generations. He brings the story alive! The narrator is not the best (he is actually hard to listen to) but after you get into the story you do not notice or care.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rwise Deer Park, TX 07-28-05
    rwise Deer Park, TX 07-28-05 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    119
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    "A hero, a war with muslims, a slick president"

    Richard Zack's second book about pirates and piracies, "The Pirate Hunter" being the first, is an excellent read. In command of the most fitting language he sets a standard for historical writing. His recollection of an almost forgotten historic affair is breathtaking. All of his conclusions are backed up by primary sources, which he quotes frequently. Among the surprising facts is not only that America forgot a truly unforgettable hero in William Eaton, but also that the conflict with the Muslim culture of slavery and piracy is not new. Thomas Jefferson's role in the aftermath of the described incident is surprisingly shameful and eerily modern and the author deserves much praise to identify and prove the president's conflict between political interests and moral, short-term and long-term interests. If the Tripoli incident had been backed up by Hamilton and finished by Eaton as planned - maybe we would not have the problems we have today. This book will be a classic and serve for many years as a source that determines the roots and reasons of conflict between Muslims and Americans. The narrator, Raymond Todd, does his job well. Even though the first chapter is read rather amateurishly, where he lowers the voice at the end of each sentence in a boring, unappealing fashion, he becomes much livelier towards the end. It is though not the task of the voice actor, but of the editor or producer to ensure this type of issue. I am looking forward to listen to more books read by Mr. Todd and authored by Mr. Zack.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wolfpacker Memphis, TN 07-22-08
    Wolfpacker Memphis, TN 07-22-08 Member Since 2005

    Curtis

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    106
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    Overall
    "Interesting History I Knew Nothing About"

    This is a good story about events that are pretty obscure yet central to early American history. The book is paced well and keeps your interest. Characters are well-developed.
    I recommend this if you want to expand your knowledge of early American history.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Chico, CA, United States 07-31-07
    Eric Chico, CA, United States 07-31-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing"

    Unbelievable detail. Those who love history will thoroughly enjoy this book. You come to know the main character of this non-fiction in vivid detail. The stories of courage and patriotism during the birth of our nation is refreshing.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James T. Jenkins Rio Rancho, NM US 08-29-07
    James T. Jenkins Rio Rancho, NM US 08-29-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
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    "Great History!"

    Really an entertaining book. This is one of the best listens that I have heard in a long time. I never knew this history before and would never have guessed that anyone could lead such an exciting and dangerous life in those times. The history was presented in such an interesting way that I laughed and cringed at the same time as the narrator presented the story. The story teller does an above excellent job in making the history come alive for the listener.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Bloomfield, CT, USA 07-11-05
    John Bloomfield, CT, USA 07-11-05 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    59
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    "Excellent Account"

    This account of the US conflict with the Barbary "pirates" (Muslims) is entertaining, succinct and accurate. The book's observations of how the Muslims negotiate, fight and act holds true today as the conflict between the West and Islam continues.

    59 of 70 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John W. Westcott Bloomfield, CT United States 07-11-05
    John W. Westcott Bloomfield, CT United States 07-11-05 Member Since 2003

    Fr John

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
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    Story
    "Excellent Account"

    This account of the US conflict with the Barbary "pirates" (Muslims) is entertaining, succinct and accurate. The book's observations of how the Muslims negotiate, fight and act holds true today as the conflict between the West and Islam continues.

    60 of 72 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ana Nelson 08-26-05
    Ana Nelson 08-26-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    "Read Jefferson's War Instead"

    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.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Midlothian, VA, United States 05-26-11
    William Midlothian, VA, United States 05-26-11 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
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    "Hilarious and historically insightful."

    Great book - couldn't stop listening to it. Have listened to it 3x over 2 years. A truly great history book in that it teaches not just about the past but about present day conflicts as well.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Monica Singer Island, FL, USA 08-19-05
    Monica Singer Island, FL, USA 08-19-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    3
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    "Worth reading"

    This is an amazing story which gives the reader insight into both history, politics, and the nature of man. This is product of an amazing amount of research. It is not an "easy read" because the author includes too much detail which does not support or add depth to the main story line. Still, it is an excellent work and well worth the reader's time.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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  • Ali
    Redhill, United Kingdom
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "Very interesting book, some narration problems"

    I found this book very interstin and Richard Zacks clearly has heavily resaerched the diaries letters and documents of the people involved which provided a great deal of insight into a barely covered period. A slight flaw is that Zacks has a tendency to over amplify the importance of the events impact which is apparent when you realise he is talking about the actions of a US Navy that is in its entirity smaller then then fleets that fought at the contemporary Battle of Trafalgar or a rebellin that relied on a doxen US marines at the same time as Napoleon was leading the Grande Armee to Austerlitz.

    In truth the only real problem is that Raymond Todd the narrator does not know how to pronounce topgallant, forecastle, boatswain or cockswain in the correct navel way, instead he simply reads the word as it is written, ordinarily this would be a minor point but in a book so heavily concerend with ships and naval warfare it becomes very distracting and prevented this good book being 5* to me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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