Kyle Smith, contributor
American merchant ships in the Mediterranean Sea are attacked and plundered by Barbary pirates, their crews enslaved and ransomed by Tripoli's vicious ruler, Yusuf. But President Thomas Jefferson has a new navy, which he deploys with orders to confront and crush Tripoli. Disaster strikes, however, when Yusuf improbably captures the mighty 36-gun frigate Philadelphia and her 300-man crew. Running out of options, Jefferson dispatches secret agent William Eaton and Marine Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon on a daring overland mission to topple Yusuf from power and rescue the American hostages. Will Eaton's audacious "enterprise" succeed--or will Yusuf humiliate America again?
Fine writing and gripping naval action sequences ignite the pages of Foley’s tale set during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency. In 1850, reluctant writer Harrison Oswald must abandon his life of leisure when his father tasks him with traveling to Russellville, Ky., to interview his aging great-uncle, local hero Presley O’Bannon. Pres recounts his youthful sailing days amid American warships battling Barbary pirates for Mediterranean trade routes five decades earlier. Cannon fire and hand-to-hand combat excite, and Foley (Where Law Ends) brings key figures of the First Barbary War to life on the page. A well-imagined Jefferson grapples with deciding whether to propose paying the ransom or military action to Congress just before secret agent William Eaton proposes a risky solution to thwart naval blockades in hopes of winning free trade within the Mediterranean for the United States. The text, rife with diplomatic tension and high-seas maneuvers over dangerous coral reefs, delivers concise, novice-friendly context clues about naval terms and practices. Additionally, Foley masterfully invokes the horrific conditions of cave prisons and the dehumanizing toil of enslaved captive passengers and seamen along the early-19th-century Barbary Coast of North Africa. (BookLife)