The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805

A real-life thriller from acclaimed historian and author of The Pirate Hunter, Richard Zacks — the true story of the unheralded American who brought the Barbary Pirates to their knees.

In an attempt to stop the legendary Barbary Pirates of North Africa from hijacking American ships, William Eaton set out in 1805 on a secret mission to overthrow the government of Tripoli. The operation was sanctioned by President Thomas Jefferson, but at the last moment he grew wary of “intermeddling” in a foreign government, and Eaton set off without proper national support.

Short on supplies, given very little money and only a few men, Eaton and his mission seemed doomed from the start. But against all odds, he improbably triumphed, recruiting a band of European mercenaries in Alexandria, along with some Arab cavalry and Bedouin fighters, and leading them on a march across the Libyan Desert. Once in Tripoli, the ragtag army defeated the local troops and successfully captured Derne, laying the groundwork for the demise of the Barbary Pirates. The success of the event is immortalized in the Marines’ Hymn, but Jefferson never allowed Eaton the fame he craved. Now, Richard Zacks brings this important story from our nation’s history to life.

Richard Zacks, author of the heralded The Pirate Hunter, is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and a freelance journalist for Atlantic Monthly, Life, Time, and numerous other publications. He lives in New York City.

Author: Richard Zacks

Published: 2006, Hyperion

Paperback, 432 pages

Subjects: United States–History–Tripolitan War, 1801-1805. Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826. United States–History–1801-1805–Underground Movements. United States–History–Tripolitan War, 1801-1805–Naval operations. Pirates–Africa, North–History–19th Century.