We’ve Had This Fight Before
Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

I recently finished one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a long time – Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History by Bryan Kilmeade and I couldn’t wait to do a review.  Holy Moly is all I can say.

Yes, I had heard of the trouble in Tripoli… maybe a mention in passing in some college course or another book I read – can’t remember which.  But, what I learned reading this book was troubling on a couple of fronts:

1 – That such an important series of events in American history is not really mentioned in traditional school settings.  I understand we can’t put everything in every history book, but this is a pretty big deal.  We are talking about years and years of harassment, capture, slavery and murder of American sailors at the hands of the then-powerful Islamic Caliphate.  Most people will have some passing memory of the “Barbary Wars” but not remember much detail.  This book is rich in those details.

2 – The big takeaway is in the words of the Tripoli ambassador, “It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every Mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise.”  The book goes on to describe that the first to board an enemy ship would earn himself one slave more than the share the rest received.

The book is extremely well-written and expertly paced.  It is the fastest page-turner I read all year thanks to the fascinating subject matter and how it applies to the headlines of today.

The entire time I read the book, I could see it as an epic mini-series.  I know that it would never be made because it doesn’t show Muslims in a flattering light, but it would be a great entertainment and highly educational.  The only fear is that a film (or mini-series) could easily ignore the facts in an attempt to be politically correct and would then do more harm than education.

If you want an entertaining book full of forgotten history… this is a great book selection.

by Chris Doelle