Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Victory in Tripoli: How America's War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation

Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Victory in Tripoli: How America's War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation

Article excerpt

PRE-20TH CENTURY HISTORY Victory in Tripoli: How America's War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation, by Joshua E. London. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2005. 242 pages. Photos. Bibl. to p. 259. Index to p. 276. $31.99 cloth: $24.95 paper.

This is a detailed account of the naval and military aspects of US hostilities with the states of North Africa during the period 1785-1815, which led to America's emergence as a factor on the world stage. The diplomatic aspects are covered less fully. The author has written it for the general reader, not the specialist. There are no footnotes, which will be a blessing to most, but I would like to know where London found some of his information about, for instance, the "withering fire" tactics of the US Consul General in Algiers, Tobias Lear. That sounds out of character with what I have read about the man.

The title may also be misleading to some, who will read it to mean a victory at Tripoli, but there was no victory there. American efforts to subdue that city by blockade and naval bombardment led, at best, to a stalemate. London is presumably referring to the capture of the Cyrenaican town of Derna (which was part of Tripoli's domain) in 1805 by the little army led across the desert from Egypt by the former American Consul in Tunis, William Eaton, in the first US effort at regime change. …

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