Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - Nonfiction
To Americans and Europeans, the Barbary corsairs were pirates, but in their own countries, they were privateers. While a British colony, that country’s treaties with these North African countries and the British navy protected American ships. Those protections ceased once the Revolutionary War started, and American sailors found themselves targets of the Barbary corsairs, who captured and enslaved them, while European nations sometimes exploited the corsairs to keep the upstart nation from becoming a major player in maritime trade. The Barbary Wars began after Moroccans captured the Betsey and the Algerines, the Dauphin and Maria. For the next thirty-three years the United States and the Barbary States (Morocco, Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis) negotiated treaties, which the Barbary States repeatedly broke until Stephen Decatur and the U.S. Navy proved America was a force to be reckoned with. To complicate matters, the United States found itself at war with France and later Britain during this same time.
The premise of this exploration into the conflict between Americans and Barbary pirates is that this was not a holy war between Islam and Christianity. Rather, the wars concerned trade and were in actuality “an extension of America’s War of Independence.” To prove this point, Lambert examines not only the relations between the United States and the Barbary States, but also what was happening in Europe and the Atlantic, and how everything was interrelated. He delves into the history of the Barbary States to provide readers with background on how the regencies evolved and became economically and politically dependent on the Barbary pirates. Their tribute-based system and Europe’s acceptance of complying with the Barbary States’ demands were in direct conflict with America’s desire for free trade. This book also covers the development of the American government and its navy, and the heroic officers who fought the pirates and eventually brought an end to the paying of tribute.
This compelling examination of a time rarely studied in American history provides readers with a well-rounded and well-researched account of the United States’ early struggles with long-established maritime powers and the Barbary States. The depth of information never impedes the easy-to-read and comprehend format. Most books on this subject tend to concentrate on a particular aspect of the conflict, such as the war with Tripoli. The Barbary Wars, however, introduces readers to all of the Barbary powers and shows the diplomatic ways that nations interact with each other to achieve their goals.
Book Review Copyright ©2006 Cindy Vallar
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