What's that? The Betsey out of Boston in the hands of pirates?
The shameful news was true! Yankee seamen were rotting in African prisons, while their captured vessel bore the pirate flag. Once more, from their lairs along the coast of North Africa, the Barbary pirates had swooped down upon peaceful victims and had carried them off to be held for ransom.
For centuries this had been going on—since the time, two thousand years before, when the Greeks had given the pirates their name. Something had to be done, and done at once, to put an end to the menace of these sea-going hoodlums. But who was there to do it? The new-born United States had neither an army nor money, and Europe was busily fighting her endless wars.
Weak and barely able to stand alone, the United States suddenly grew up to face her problem. In this time of distress, she was aided by a remarkable roster of great men: Stephen Decatur, still a young officer; Commodore Preble, whom many consider to have been the founder of our navy; Joshua Humphreys, the outstanding designer of warships of his time; and President Thomas Jefferson. And out of the nuisance of the Barbary pirates, the United States Navy was born!
In The Barbary Pirates, C. S. Forrester, naval historian and creator of Captain Horatio Hornblower, tells the little-known and exciting story of the death-blow given by our infant navy to the pirates of North Africa. It is a strange story, that seems stranger still when we remember that but for a handful of not-too-efficient pirates, our great navy might never have existed!
From the dust jacket
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