The Pirate Coast

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After Tripoli declared war on the United States in 1801, Barbary pirates captured 300 U.S. sailors and marines. President Jefferson sent navy squadrons to the Mediterranean, but he also authorized a secret mission to overthrow the government of Tripoli. He chose an unlikely diplomat, William Eaton, to lead the mission, but before Eaton departed, Jefferson grew wary of the affair and withdrew his support.

Astoundingly, Eaton persevered, gathering a ragtag army, including eight U.S. Marines, and leading them on a brutal march across 500 miles of desert. After surviving sandstorms, treachery, and near death from thirst, Eaton achieved a remarkable victory on "the shores of Tripoli", as commemorated in the Marine Corps Hymn. His triumph gained freedom for the American hostages and newfound respect for the young United States, but for Eaton, the aftermath wasn't sweet. When he dared to reveal that the president had abandoned him, Jefferson set out to crush him.

©2005 Richard Zacks; (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks

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