From Publishers Weekly
The author of The Pirate Hunter
,which made Captain Kidd come to life, focuses here more broadly on a piracy hot spot. Resolved to stop the enslavement of American merchant sailors by North African nations, Jefferson deployed most of the infant U.S. Navy to the Mediterranean and sent a column of troops overland from Egypt to place the pasha of Tripoli's brother Hamet on the throne in 1801. The leader of that motley array of mercenaries, Muslim tribesmen, Hamet's retainers and a handful of U.S. Marines was the colorful and combative William Eaton, who led them more than 500 miles across the desert to "the shores of Tripoli." By the time he arrived, peace negotiations were underway, in the hands of one Tobias Deane, who was neither honest nor competent. Eaton had to abandon Hamet and was in turn virtually abandoned by the Jefferson administration, leaving him with a mountain of debt and a drinking problem that eventually killed him at 47. There has been a dearth of good material on the Barbary War and particularly on Eaton's trek; Zacks has researched thoroughly, writes entertainingly and shows a knack for sea stories and characterization. This is the book that Captain Eaton has long deserved. (June)
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In 1805, with the United States at war with Tripoli, a disgraced diplomat named William Eaton embarked on the young nation's first covert mission: to track down Hamet Karamanli, the brother of the Bashaw of Tripoli, and place him on the throne. The quest was ill funded and poorly managed, and had a rather feeble ally in Hamet, who repeatedly attempted to back out of the plot. Eaton was further thwarted by Tobias Lear, the American consul in the Barbary Coast, who eventually negotiated a treaty (and paid a hefty tribute to ransom prisoners and insure peace). Zacks recounts the misadventures of Eaton (and the fledgling Marine Corps) with an enthusiastic flair that at times relies too heavily on romantic conjecture. Still, the narrative is propelled by the entertaining excesses of Eaton's rhetoric, as preserved in his diary and letters.
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