• Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

  • The Forgotten War That Changed American History
  • By: Brian Kilmeade, Don Yaeger
  • Narrated by: Brian Kilmeade
  • Length: 4 hrs and 52 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (2,784 ratings)

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Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

By: Brian Kilmeade,Don Yaeger
Narrated by: Brian Kilmeade
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Publisher's Summary

"The challenges we face today are not so different from Jefferson's, and we've much to learn from his boldness and from the courage of the marines and sailors who died to protect their country." (Brian Kilmeade)

This is the little-known story of how a newly independent nation was challenged by four Muslim powers and what happened when America's third president decided to stand up to intimidation.

When Thomas Jefferson became president in 1801, America faced a crisis. The new nation was deeply in debt and needed its economy to grow quickly, but its merchant ships were under attack. Pirates from North Africa's Barbary Coast routinely captured American sailors and held them as slaves, demanding ransom and tribute payments far beyond what the new country could afford.

Over the previous 15 years, as a diplomat and then as secretary of state, Jefferson had tried to work with the Barbary states (Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, and Morocco). Unfortunately, he found it impossible to negotiate with people who believed their religion justified the plunder and enslavement of non-Muslims. These rogue states would show no mercy - at least not while easy money could be made by extorting America, France, England, and other powers. So President Jefferson decided to move beyond diplomacy. He sent the US Navy's new warships and a detachment of marines to blockade Tripoli - launching the Barbary Wars and beginning America's journey toward future superpower status.

As they did in their previous best seller, George Washington's Secret Six, Kilmeade and Yaeger have transformed a nearly forgotten slice of history into a dramatic story that will keep you listening to find out what happens next.

©2015 Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger (P)2015 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Thomas Jefferson. Pirates. And national security. This is how you make history exciting. I dare you to put this book down.” (Brad Meltzer, best-selling author of The President’s Shadow)

“Reads like a fast-paced thriller but is actually a thoughtful account of America’s first foray into what has become a complex part of the world.” (General Stanley McChrystal (ret.), author of Team of Teams

“A riveting book of history that reads as though it were ripped from today’s headlines, and a must read for anyone seeking an understanding of the roots of U.S. foreign policy.” (Admiral James Stavridis (ret.), former supreme allied commander at NATO; dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University) 

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What listeners say about Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting history - terrible narrator

My husband & I enjoy listening to non-fiction when we travel. We especially enjoy historical accounts. The story here is an interesting one, but I would NEVER listen to this narrator again. His voice grates. He speaks way too fast and everything is made to sound exciting and over the top. Not our cup of tea.

34 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Like getting cornered by angry beach bum.

The writing is repetitive and lacks the detailed accounts I hoped to find, but it's the narration that really kills this one for me.

Kilmeade sounds as if he's had a few drinks and every other sentence drips with righteous indignation. It seems less like an account of the history, and more about how angry the whole episode makes Kilmeade.

27 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Kilmeade's Narration Ruins It!

What was one of the most memorable moments of Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates?

The parallels of the treachery between the Tripoli pirates and modern day radical Islam struck me as I listened to this book. They observe no rules of war, as James Decatur discovered with payment of his life.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

While the story is interesting and fairly well written, Brian Kilmeade's narration really detracts from this audio book. His inflection makes this retelling of one of America's first incursions into foreign diplomacy sound more like a book on how to make money in real estate with no money down! Even more distracting are the obviousline breaks that highlight his inexperience as a narrator. The pauses are frequent and at times confusing because, as a listener, your ear is duped into thinking the sentence has endedonly to have the last few words read.

Did Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates inspire you to do anything?

Listening to this book as inspired me to READ this book. The topic is so interesting that I feel like I need to explore the story without Kilmeade's interference.

Any additional comments?

If I could give the narration a negative star rating, I would.

25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Narrator

Kilmeade, talks way to fast. Hard to enjoy the book. He should slow down. I

24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • KC
  • 11-13-15

Kilmeade is unlistenable

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I couldn't complete the book due to the horrible diction and rat-a-tat delivery style of the author/reader. There is usually a reason the author writes and a performer 'performs." In this case, much as with Bill O'Reilly ("Killing (fill in the blank)"), the writing is passable, but the performance is too far off the reservation. I just couldn't listen past the first two chapters.

19 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great look into the past that sounds a lot like the present

This is an excellent story brought to life with primary source quotes from the Americans who fought the Pirates. The statements made 200 years ago ring true today. The only thing I found disappointing was the narrator, Fox and Friends own and the author Brian. His voice is great, but he reads way too fast. I think he forgets he's reading for an audience that is only listening and at times I had to start a chapter over to re-listen to an event or description again. Overall a great read.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Terrible Performance Ruins Good Story

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Performed by an audiobook professional.

What did you like best about this story?

Fascinating little-known slice of history.

How could the performance have been better?

It's hard to believe that the narrator is one of the authors. He reads like a quasi-literate seventh grader, with confusing pauses and all the wrong inflections. His accent is grating and incompatible with the subject matter. Impossible to get through. The delivery significantly affects the listener's ability to track the narrative.

What character would you cut from Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates?

Brian Kilmeade.

Any additional comments?

I would like my money back on this title so I can buy it in print.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Abysmal narration

The story may be compelling but it gets lost in the worst narration I have heard during my membership in Audible. If there were ever Exhibit A for hiring a professional to do the reading, this woeful performance would be it. The author may be a good writer, but his reading is dreadful. Slushy diction, persistently strident vocal quality (he seemed to be shouting the whole time), extremely rushed tempo, and sometimes confusing phrasing all left me glad when the book was finished. I would think that this important story would be much better in the narration of Richard Poe or Nelson Runger. Otherwise, give it a pass.

9 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Narrator so bad stopped listening to it

I listen to over 50 audio's a year and this was the worst audio reading of book ever.
There was emphasis at the end of almost every sentence.
Not sure if story was good or not because it gave me such a headache I stop listening to it.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Reads like a thriller

In the 1700’s and early 1800’s pirates or corsairs raided along the Barbary Coast (off what are now Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. The pirates raided merchant ships of any country that did not pay tribute to local rulers. Prisoners were held for ransom or turned over to their allies the Ottoman Empire as slaves. Before Washington was President, Jefferson and Adams were sent to London to negotiate with the Pasha of Tripoli to no avail. The Envoy told Jefferson and Adams that Islam was ordered by their belief to destroy all non believers so the United States needed to pay or die.

The United States did not have much money and the Navy of the American Revolution had been disbanded. The idea was to have each colony depended upon civilian militia. The Congress finally was persuaded to form a Navy of six frigates. On May 10, 1801 the United States had not paid tribute so the Pasha of Tripoli declared war on the United States. A small Navy squadron joined the Swedish Navy in a blockade of Tripoli. The book goes into detail about the war.

The book is well written and well researched including personal diaries as well as government documents. The book is only about five hours so can be read in one sitting. When finishing the book I felt nothing has really changed in the Middle East and this was only the first encounter of a long war. Most of the European countries have been in this fight much longer than the United States. Brian Kilmeade narrated the book.

6 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Nigel J. Aiken
  • Nigel J. Aiken
  • 01-22-20

Ship made it to sure.

Think you know what I'm saying, ships or indeed men made it to sure. Swimming to sure.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 03-27-19

great book

Great book, reader was a bit too enthusiastic but not as bad as some have commented. I wish men were more of this mind today as those of the founders of America were. I myself am British and i thoroughly enjoyed this book.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Daniel White
  • Daniel White
  • 02-09-17

Interesting story badly narrated

This was an excellent book but poorly narrated by its author. An actor should have been employed who knows pitch, pace, and power with some modulation too!