The Shores of Tripoli: Lieutenant Putnam and the Barbary Pirates by James L. Haley

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I received an ARC of The Shores of Tripoli and just finished it the other day.  I was intrigued by this book because I didn’t know anything about the Barbary Wars, which took place in the early 1800’s.


Readers are taken on a tour of life in the navy during the period of history when the U. S. engaged in the Barbary Wars.  We follow a fictitious main character through a setting, details and events which are accurate and historical.  Bliven Putnam begins his naval career as a midshipman and is promoted to Lieutenant Commodore by the end of the book.  He experiences many fantastic adventures in his time in the navy, which shape him into a man.  There is also commentary on the politics and political climate of the time throughout the story.  Many interesting supporting characters enter into The Shores of Tripoli, such as the rulers of the Barbary States, Commodore Preble, Mr. & Mrs. Barton, Tobias Lear, and Sam Bandy.  They all add considerably the narrative.

My thoughts:

By setting a fictitious character in the midst of history, the author managed to tell a story which was both captivating and informative.  I really enjoyed this story and feel like my understanding of early U. S. history has improved.  The narrative is quite descriptive and compelling, which should keep you reading at a good clip.  The end of the book leaves you hanging, but they might be setting it up for another installment.

The only issue I had was that I am unfamiliar with the parts of a ship.  The descriptions of what they were doing with sails, jibs, etc. went over my head.

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy learning about history in an entertaining way.  By following Putnam’s journey through real-life events, you will get an insider’s look at the Barbary Wars of the early 1800’s.  It’s certainly an engaging way to learn history!

Possible Objections:

  • Some violence
  • Some sexual themes
  • A bit of foul language/crass words

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…


*I received a free ARC of this book and have shared my honest opinion.



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