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The Shores of Tripoli (Lieutenant Putnam and the Barbary Pirates #1)
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The Shores of Tripoli

(Bliven Putnam Naval Adventure #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  554 ratings  ·  85 reviews
It is 1801 and President Thomas Jefferson has assembled a deep-water navy to fight the growing threat of piracy, as American civilians are regularly kidnapped by Islamist brigands and held for ransom, enslaved, or killed, all at their captors’ whim. The Berber States of North Africa, especially Tripoli, claimed their faith gave them the right to pillage anyone who did not ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published November 1st 2016 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
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3.93  · 
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 ·  554 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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Hannah Greendale
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

The year is 1801 and President Thomas Jefferson has assembled a navy to fight the unrelenting piracy in the Mediterranean where American civilians are being captured by corsairs and enslaved, killed, or held at ransom. At fourteen years of age, Bliven Putnam sets sail for the shores of Tripoli on the U.S.S. Enterprise where his mettle as a man will be tested.

"Like all navies, the Berbers take their rank an
Blaine DeSantis
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this historical fiction book about the US efforts against the Barbary Pirates. Not sure why there are some poor reviews for this book, I understand it is not a non-fiction account of the situation but the authors research was outstanding and the book really was a fine blend of action and historical accuracy. It also brought to light how difficult it was to operate during those years when there was little immediate means of communication and also how difficult foreign policy was made and ...more
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
4 1/2 stars. Anyone who enjoys nautical themed historical fiction set in the Napoleonic era will love this book. Think Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels, but set in the U.S. Navy. I was hoping for Patrick O’Brian, or at least Horatio Hornblower, but not getting my hopes up too much. This author totally delivered the goods. In some ways it surpasses O’Brian, which is no small compliment. Erudite, descriptive prose, carefully developed characters and battling the Barbary pirates in the water ...more
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
Having read every single one of C. S. Forester's, Patrick O'Brian's, Alexander Kent's and Dewey Lambdin's sailing novels, I was looking forward to this new entry in the genre. However, either the young American Navy operated much differently than the British Navy, or Mr. Haley doesn't know how sailing vessels were commanded.

First, to have junior officers actually manning the wheel, and at the same time determining the ship's course while the ship's commander is apparently doing nothing, beggars
Mike Prochot
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ships-and-sea
Like many reviewers, I wanted to like this book. I had low expectations and they were met. It was ok. Outside of subject matter, it does not compare with O'Brian in the least.

While the historical background is accurate, the ship handling and chains of command as depicted are not. Moreover, the exploits of the young hero are closer to comic book superhero type than young midshipman in the equally young U.S. Navy.

Too much too soon - if this is to be a series. Young Putnam goes way too far too fast
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Ultimately disappointing. Incredibly heavy in exposition (explainer dialogue), it reads like a history lesson with a naive, Pollyannaish YA hero thrown in to make it more accessible. The author goes to too great lengths to shoehorn his hero into some heady events, but even then, what should be great conflicts between towering egos, or page-turning battles swimming in powder smoke and blood, are usually abstracted and described in passing, rendering them tepid at best. Doesn't fare well beside th ...more
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I got this as an ARC, and finally read it. It is well written with accurate historical details. Part of the setting is Northwestern Connecticut (Litchfield), territory with which I am familiar.

Great plot line and an auspicious start for a series.
Michael Plas
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
I came to this book with high hopes. I have read nearly every book of this sort in print, but they are universally told from the British point of view. So I began this book. Yet I found it underwhelming. Bliven Putnam seems an incredible character, entrusted with great responsibilities at such a young age and with such little experience. It's hard to believe, even given the circumstances of the US Navy at this time. Much of the story seems contrived and Putnam is pushed into too many situations ...more
Lawrence DeAngelus
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is definitely the best contemporary American literature I've read in a long time. Haley brings his setting to life vibrantly, with rich and interesting detail. Thankfully, he doesn't shy away from writing honestly about Islamic culture, and the beliefs underlying their practice of taking slaves, which practice continues to this day, in the very same areas. The characters are well-defined and very likable. Barnes' transformation after his captivity is simply heartbreaking.
If I have one crit
Apr 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mark Kloha
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked it. It is historical fiction following the adventures of our young Bliven Putnam who has joined the US Navy in its infancy. I love history. The author used real events - the First Barbary War with real people. The events are all historical and mostly accurate. When we all studied American History, the Barbary Wars will get a few paragraphs in our history books. A book like this brings that time frame and those events to a much more detailed and intriguing level. Yes, there are probably m ...more
Charlene Nelson
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: History lovers
Recommended to Charlene by: won an advanced reader copy
President Jefferson made the United States Navy to establish our place in the world. This story answered some questions for me concerning later events in the Arab world, such as our involvement during Teddy Roosevelt's term as president. I thought the characters were interesting and made you want them to be able to carry out their mission. I think you get a small look at the time of piracy on the high seas and realize that it wasn't only in the Carribean or South Pacific. The fact that American ...more
Daniel Ligon
I had high expectations of this book and was a little disappointed. I've read author James Haley's biography of Sam Houston and loved it, so I was looking forward to reading a historical novel by Haley. "The Shores of Tripoli" was an enjoyable read, but the narrative style was a bit fragmented at times. I've just come to the conclusion that Haley is probably better at writing history than fiction.

The overall plot of this book, as well as the historical part of the story, were excellent. The nove
Maranda (addlebrained_reader)
As a reader it is important to feel passion from the author. This book has that in spades. With every word I could feel Haley's heart and soul being poured onto the pages. The book is full of historical and technical details. The battle scenes are fast paced and intriguing. Lieutenant Putnam is a likeable character. A mere teenager who is trying to carve his place in the world as a man. The Shores of Tripoli is a thoroughly researched look into the early 1800s and is a perfect read for lovers of ...more
Peter Jones
Sep 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
This was another book that just did not satisfy me, to the extent that I abandoned it a little over half way through.

The plot sounded full of promise - just the sort of book I love, but unfortunately the writing was flat and hard to follow. Gripping it isn't - it reads more like a historical treatise.

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group, Putnam for a digital ARC of The Shores of Tripoli in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm a history buff, enjoy historical fiction, and this was about a time in history that I knew little about, so I was looking forward to reading it. Did I like it? Well, yes and no. In the end I felt like there was a really good book hiding behind all of the literary mistakes. Frankly, I was shocked that something so rife with literary faux pas could have made it past Putnam's editors. As any school kid will tell you, history books are usually heavy on historical minutiae and light on drama. Mr. ...more
This was such a timely book! It focuses on the life of one lieutenant in America's fledgling navy. Set in the very early 1800's, it tells the story of how America decided that it needed a navy to fight off the Barbary pirates (as well as the French and British…).

In essence the people living along the northern coast of Africa—the Barbary States of Morocco, Tunis, Algers, and Tripoli—plied the waters of the Mediterranean looking for merchant ships to capture and claim. They also claimed the mercha
Casey Harmon
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was fun, and is one of the few that I think I would have enjoyed just as much had I read it as a 15-year old.

I'm not sure I'd call author James L. Haley the modern American Patrick O'Brian, but he's close. It was cool looking up the nautical terms as I read, which I had to do when reading Master and Commander. The main characters, Bliven Putnam, Sam Bandy, and their assorted counterparts and superiors on various ships, are enjoyable to get to know.

I once read a Christopher Hitchens pi
Bliven Putnam is a young low level officer in the American Navy assigned to protect American merchant vessels from the Berber pirates. This book contained what too many of todays books do not--descriptions. Haley details life on a ship during the wait and during the battles. He makes the reader aware of the politics behind the actions. But then it hits: a modern view with modern justifications and modern argument. It becomes painfully obvious that Haley adds scenes in the book that neither move ...more
Pretty good overall, though not what I was expecting. If you are after a seafaring tale, this isn't it. The plot revolves around a young man beginning his career in a fledgling U.S. Navy and yet, the passages where he is aboard ship are largely incidental to the story. This is much more of an historical dramatization of the events and intrigues surrounding America's war with the Mediterranean Berber states in the opening years of the 19th century. For me it helped fill in some of the blanks in m ...more
Sean Meade
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. It's right up my historical fiction alley and, to me, a worthy successor to the naval stories of Hornblower, Aubrey/Maturin (I only read 'Master and Commander' and found it kind of dull, and the some of Henty's stories in this genre. I am looking forward to reading the sequel. Christine saw the sequel at the library and rightly concluded that I would be interested in the series.

The book has a good map and two really nice images of sails and decks on the USS Constitution
Sean Gill
Jan 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Somewhat wandering plot, although I suppose it is historical fiction, so... I enjoyed the setting and the character of Lieutenant Putnam. He's a bit of a Harry Potter/Wesley Crusher wonder kid in that he always seems to be right and observes more momentous events than he ought to given that he starts as a midshipmen. Some characters come and go somewhat haphazardly and I couldn't always keep track. It's interesting that the narration sometimes cleaves very closely to Putnam's point of view but t ...more
Gail Ofterdinger-Ledgister
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
For lovers of historical fiction, this volume fills a giant void. Our schools teach almost nothing about the US Navy and its adventures in the Mediterranean circa 1800. Follow a young man from Connecticut as he battles pirates, trains his men in the operation of the ship's gunnery, and is initiated into the grown-up world of love. We read of sea battles in the great sailing ships, intrigue and politics in the dealings of the government officials, and the relationships that are formed by men in b ...more
Joel Thimell
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
This is intended to be an American version of the Horatio Hornblower series by CS Forester or the Jack Aubrey series by Patrick O'Brian according to the author. It's not bad, but it isn't quite in that exalted company.

That's partly because the characters are not as memorable and partly because the American navy simply didn't have nearly as grand a history to write about as the British navy did at the beginning of the 19th century.

I like it well enough to reach for the sequel. But, more important
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it
It's OK. Only OK. It bills itself as an American tale to rival those of Forrester and O'Brian (Hornblower and Aubrey), and while it is the same era and situations the tale is uninspired. The writing is serviceable. Time and action compressions are a little confusing but not terrible.

I enjoyed the tale as a mildly diverting read but I did not find the invitation to immerse in the environment of the tale that O'Brian extends and delivers on so consistently.
Michael Moss
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
These kinds of books remind me of why historical fiction is so appealing. You experience history as an intimate human story, not an explanation of time, place, and events. And boy, life for a 14 year old kid (the main protagonist) in the 18th century could be quite an adventure. In our modern world, it's hard to imagine a young man joining the American Navy (early Marines), heading out to sea for the first time and encountering face-to-face skirmishes with Barbary pirates. Great story.
Steve Bender
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I got this book in a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Very good historical novel about the UV involvement with the Barbary states in the early 1800's. Very similar to CS Forrester's Hornblower novels, just a little less verve. The history is really good and the characters likeable. Recommended.
Apr 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel and it's successor are well written, if not brilliant. The stories are interesting and nicely put together. The real negative is that they are so derivative of Patrick O'Brian, that you almost feel as if you already read them.

Without O'Brian these would be "better," and that may not be fair, but is the reality.
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Good book. Great use of history and the telling of the story of the war and Putnam. Hard to put down. Details of war and being on the ship were written so you felt like you were there. Entertaining and gripping. Interesting characters and secondary characters which includes entertaining back stories. Would recommend
W.W. McNeal
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
A well-crafted tale of American seamen during the Napoleonic era. Brims with authenticity. A good read, particularly for those who are interested in the era, and seafaring. I look forward to the sequels.
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Around the Year i...: The Shores of Tripoli, by James L. Haley 1 15 Jan 10, 2017 02:43PM  

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