Jefferson’s War: America’s First War on Terror 1801-1805
by Joseph Wheelan
Unabridged, 12 hr. 10 min.
Blackstone Audio Inc.
Patrick Cullen (Narrator)
June 17, 2005
Genre: Historical Non-fiction
Source: Downloaded audiobook from my local library
“Author Joseph Wheelan has marvelously captured the story of America’s war against the Barbary pirates, our first war against terror and the nations that support it. The Barbary pirates, a Muslim enemy from Tripoli, attacked European and American merchant shipping with impunity. Jefferson ordered the U.S. Navy to Tripoli in 1801 to repel "force with force." The Barbary War was also a proving ground for such young officers as William Bainbridge, Stephen Decatur, Isaac Hull, and David Porter, key players in the impending War of 1812 against Great Britain.”
The title of this book caught my attention – did anyone else know that the United States had a war on terror prior to the current one? I sure didn’t. I also knew a scant amount about the Barbary pirates, and what I did know was certainly much more current than the early 1800’s. While I was initially concerned that the title might just be drawing on current events, this book was quite interesting and informative.
This is a war that I was never taught about in school, and I think I can safely assume that many others haven’t either. The United States and many other ocean-faring countries of Europe faced the real threat that the Barbary pirates would attack their ships, take their cargoes, and potentially kill members of their crew or take slaves/prisoners. The United States was the first country to really flex its military muscle when it had enough of paying bribes to these pirate nations. Many of the great military naval heroes of the War of 1812 earned their stripes during these Barbary wars.
This book also read very much like a novel. It felt like an adventure story – you have exotic locales, daring acts of heroism, and anticipation. It was also something where I didn’t know what the outcomes would be – something I don’t usually get too often. The main focus was not so much on Jefferson, but we do learn about his feelings toward the pirates and his policy actions. I certainly think that this is an event that more people should know about and this book provides great information on the subject while still being an enjoyable read.
The narration of this book was very well done. The narrator was able to incite excitement and anticipation in the listener and led to an enjoyable listening experience.
Author Joseph Wheelan has written several other non-fiction books such as: Mr. Adams's Last Crusade: The Extraordinary Post-presidential Life of John Quincy Adams, Jefferson's Vendetta: The Pursuit of Aaron Burr and the Judiciary, Libby Prison Breakout: The Daring Escape from the Notorious Civil War Prison, Invading Mexico: America's Continental Dream and the Mexican War, 1846-1848, and Terrible Swift Sword: The Life of General Philip H. Sheridan. You can visit Wheelan’s website for additional information about the book.
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