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Brian Kilmeade and Don Yeager

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

Sentinel/Penguin

From 1785 to 1815, a young United States waged war against Muslim pirates operating out of Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers and Morocco. The buccaneers boarded American ships, holding their crews for ransom. A cost-benefit analysis led President Jefferson to spend ransom money to build a navy. Unlike modern-day terrorists, the Barbary pirates weren’t jihadists, just greedy. I learned some interesting facts. Some of the hostages, held for years, learned their captors’ language and culture. Amazingly, the government used their skills in dealing with the pirates. It’s a quick read, heavy on the action, but a good introduction to more scholarly studies.

– Bruce Collier
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