Actually, I disagree with the other reviewers, I didn't find this dry at all. I thought it was an exciting read. I suspect the other reviewers anticipated another kind of book about pirates.
But for those interested in real history or political science, be prepared to discover that what you learned in school about the U.S. cry of "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute" was not quite what happened.
This book just further increases the contempt I have been developing for the "great" Thomas Jefferson. We had the Barbary pirates "on the ropes" and then we surrendered and paid the ransom. And the government just covered it all up.
And what happened to the American agent who could have beaten the pirates for us once and for all? Well, history proves once again that it doesn't pay to be a whistle-blower.
To understand America's involvement in the Arab world you need to know the amazing tale-filled with lessons for today-of how it began 200 years ago. Richard Zacks has produced a brilliant account of our first covert action overseas and of the great struggle between Thomas Jefferson and the colorful adventurer William Eaton who pulled it off.
I agree that this book is hard to read. He tried to be readable, but failed. There are good nuggets of information that isn't easily found else where. I enjoyed those nuggets and that was why I kept at it. It certainly points out where the US got their foreign policy and the ways it's used. Not that much has changed since 1804. You will get interesting info on early "Washington City". In this book a lot of the problems are that there are many quotes in the style of early American language. And there are of replicas of the original letters.
The nice thing is that at the end he tells what all eventually happened to the people involved after the main story ended. There is an extensive bibliography as well as a cast if characters according to the countries and positions they were allied to.
When I bought this I thought it was a historical novel. Instead it is a dry re-telling of history as fact. Boring and difficult to read - not recommended at all for children who are into Pirates. I'm glad I started to read it before giving it to my pirate-obsessed niece & nephew as I had intended. Almost 400 pages - I stopped reading after the first 100.