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Thursday, May 26, 2016


(New York: Sentinel, 2015) by BRIAN KILMEADE and DON YAEGER
    Review by Hugh Murray
            In an era of political correctness and revisionist “history,” the Kilmeade-Yaeger volume is refreshing.  While some amazon reviewers complain that it is written for 4th graders, others criticize the authors’ use of the terminology of 1800.  Strangely, both criticisms are valid – but they miss the main point: the book is easy enough that a 10-year-old can enjoy it.  The writing is generally clear, avoiding the numerous qualifications and limiting clauses that render the sentences of academic history so boring.  Kilmeade and Yaeger have written exciting history, for young and old.
            In addition to being an easy read, the book is unashamedly pro-American.  There is little attempt to portray the ‘multicultural’ approach. that for many Muslims may have a right to capture and enslave Europeans and Americans because the Koran deems it an appropriate way to treat infidels.  Furthermore, there is nothing immoral about slavery, for the Prophet himself bought and owned slaves.  Indeed, there was a long tradition of hundreds of years whereby Africans raided European lands for loot and to capture slaves.  If the Europeans were not ransomed, they remained enslaved.  The American Consul General in Tunis is quoted expressing his anger at seeing a lazy Turk relaxing on an embroidered cushion while one Christian slave held his pipe, another his coffee, and a third fanned to drive away the flies.(171)   The authors reject the multicultural approach.  Moreover, if an American ship flies a British flag to fool the Muslims, that deception is for a righteous cause.  When Muslims deceive, that proves their perfidy.
            Today, when the fake history, “Roots,” is being revised into an even more anti-white television production, it is good that this book about pirates and slavery has become a best-seller, providing some balance to the propaganda of the educrats.  (In the city of Milwaukee, this week, the city school board appropriated funds for a Black Lives Matter program in the schools.)
            There are topics that might have been included in this small volume.  The authors assert that Jefferson first became fully aware of the pirate problem when he wanted one of his daughters to sail from Virginia to France to join him.  What if her ship were captured by the Barbary pirates and she enslaved?  Did Jefferson worry in the same way about a young woman accompanying his daughter, his own slave Sally Hemings?  (She goes unmentioned in this book)  The contradiction, yea hypocrisy, of Jefferson on the issue of slavery is now well known, but still it is relevant to the topic of this book, and should have been discussed.
            From the 1790s until 1815 Britain was at war, on and off, with Napoleon.  How did that affect American merchant vessels (and the US navy)?  Napoleon sent a sizable army to Haiti to crush the slave rebellion.  With that failed mission, Napoleon then decided to sell Louisiana to the US.  What was the position of the American shippers to the French actions in Haiti?  Jefferson won Congressional approval for the purchase of New Orleans from France, but went beyond and bought all of Louisiana.  That is mentioned in this volume.
            Protecting the rights of American sailors, from enslavement by Barbary piratical regimes, and then from impressments into the Royal Navy by the British, led to the War of 1812.  At its conclusion, the British stopped impressments, and the Barbary regimes no longer received American pay-offs to halt their centuries’-old practice of piracy.
            Kilmeade and Yaeger have written an exciting book, including the slow voyages across the ocean and equally slow communications, the chase after smaller pirate craft, the running aground of America’s largest warship, the Philadelphia, its recovery by the Tripolitans, and the clandestine plot to sneak aboard and set the prize ablaze, a successful exploit led by Stephen Decatur, another plan to sail a smaller ship into the harbor of Tripoli loaded with explosives, light it, and weaken the shore defenses of the Muslims.  That venture failed when the bomb-ship exploded before reaching its destination, killing all the Americans.  There was also a plan to depose the Bashaw of Tripoli with his more amenable brother, then in exile in Egypt.  Consul General William Eaton, with American cash, gathered a small army including about a dozen US marines, and marched 600 miles to an area near Benghazi, to wrest Derne, then Tripoli’s 2nd city from the forces of the Bashaw of Tripoli.  Suddenly aware of his weakness, the Bashaw quickly negotiated a Peace Treaty, which to the dismay of Eaton, still required the US to pay a small ransom for the release of the enslaved Americans.

            This fine, small book includes colored illustrations and maps.  For a contrast of the treatment of slaves in Muslim Africa, one can read of some of the punishments inflicted upon the European slaves (37 and the illustration opposite p.110) and search for any comparable ones in the American South.  And though the US was a very new nation, and populated overwhelmingly by Protestants, Pope Pius VII praised Stephen Decatur and the Americans who broke the practice of the Barbary pirates enslaving Christian mariners.  This book illustrates why America was, from its early days, a great nation.

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