Jefferson's War: America's First War on Terror, 1801-1805
Two centuries ago, without congressional or public debate, a president whom we think of today as peaceable, Thomas Jefferson, launched America's first war on foreign soil - a war against terror. The enemy was Muslim; the war was waged unconventionally, with commandos, native troops, encrypted intelligence, and launched from foreign bases under short-term alliances. For nearly two hundred years, the Barbary pirates had haunted the Mediterranean, enslaving tens of thousands of Europeans and extorting millions of dollars from their countries in a mercenary holy war against Christendom. Sailing in sleek corsairs built for speed and plunder, the Barbary pirates attacked European and American merchant shipping with impunity, triumphing as much by terror as force of arms. As a newly independent nation, America and her merchant fleet became a frequent target of such piracy. After his inauguration, instead of negotiating worthless treaties and paying tribute, Jefferson chose to fight.
Readers who enjoy military and naval history, presidential biographies and accounts of the early American republic, will find that Joseph Wheelan's spirited narrative of Jefferson's war provides as important new perspective on America's struggles with terror - then and now.
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