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The Pirate Coast    by Richard Zaks order for
Pirate Coast
by Richard Zaks
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

This exciting narrative tells the story of America's first encounter with terrorism. The USS Philadelphia was captured after its incompetent captain ran her aground in Tripoli harbor. Barbary pirates and greedy Pashas from various North African countries regularly demanded tribute from any countries interested in trading in the Mediterranean. If they refused, ships were seized and their crews and passengers enslaved. This is what happened to the crew of the USS Philadelphia. Rather than give in to threats, President Thomas Jefferson not only dispatched diplomats to take care of the delicate situation, but he also authorized a secret overland mission to overthrow the government of Tripoli.

His choice to lead this dangerous mission was William Eaton, a man who'd disgraced himself in various ways and who regarded this mission as a last chance to redeem his tarnished reputation. Eaton enlisted the aid of an exiled prince named Hamet, and along with a motley band of mercenaries, they marched across the deserts of Libya, and eventually put an end to the Barbary Pirates and their domination of the Mediterranean - all of which Eaton managed to achieve even after Jefferson withdrew supplies, weapons and troops. Eaton fell from grace after revealing the president's role, but his amazing victory on 'the shores of Tripoli' is still commemorated in the U.S. Marine Corps hymn.

In The Pirate Hunter, Richard Zaks demonstrates a gift for the researching and re-telling of factual events. He offers a gripping look at real American history, involving 'Thomas Jefferson, The First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805'. The colorful characters and events of the era come to life in Zak's skillful, meticulously researched narrative, in which he portrays the undaunted spirit of a young nation that was still feeling its way, but refused to be blackmailed.

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