To the Shores of Tripoli: The Birth of the U.S. Navy and Marines

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Naval Institute Press, 1991 - History - 357 pages
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Often-overlooked yet significant and prophetic event in U.S. history, the Barbary War was America's first battle against an Arab despot and President Thomas Jefferson's first major challenge to U.S. foreign policy. As described by A.B.C. Whipple, it is a great yarn as well as first-rate history. The author skillfully combines vivid accounts of derring-do with shrewd appraisals of contemporary politics and diplomacy. Because the Continental Navy had been disbanded, there was an urgent need to develop a new Navy and Marine Corps. Faced with the choice of trading arms for hostages or meeting force with force, Jefferson sent a squadron of warships to the Mediterranean while Congress was in recess, prompting the first major debate on the war-making powers of a U.S. president. The war included a blockade of Tripoli, sustained bombardment by the Navy's new frigates, and finally a ground war fought by a U.S. Army captain, eight Marines, and a rabble of Christians and Arabs sent to free the hostages.

Whipple's rousing narrative is filled with fascinating personalities. In addition to Jefferson, there is Commodore Edward Preble, the quarter-deck tyrant who commanded the first naval forces into battle; the bold junior officer Stephen Decatur; the tyrannical bashaw, Yusuf Karamanli; William Eaton, an early-day Lawrence of Arabia; Marine lieutenant Presley O'Bannon; and a host of others.

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TO THE SHORES OF TRIPOLI: The Birth of the U.S. Navy and Marines

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

America's first hostage crises date back to its formative years, when Muslim pirates operating out of city-state ports along North Africa's Barbary Coast preyed on its merchant vessels in the ... Read full review

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User Review  - oparaxenos - LibraryThing

A good read but, having been written in 1991, its views on Muslims and their religion are a bit dated. Read full review

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About the author (1991)

Addison Beecher Colvin Whipple (born 1918) is a historian and author who has written largely about oceanic subjects since the mid-1950s. He was an executive editor at Time-Life Books, and worked as a reporter for Life during the 1950s.

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