Ah, a good new historical novel. They are rare – perhaps because the research is fundamental to the plot rather than incidental.
If you are fan of Patrick O’Brian’s series about a commander in the British Navy, beginning in 1800 and going through 1815, then The Shores of Tripoli will appeal. It’s almost the same setup, but in the nascent U.S. Navy. The protagonist is a young teen who quickly rises to temporary Lieutenant Commander by the end of the novel. Seems there was a dearth of experienced naval men in the U.S. at the time the Navy was formed, so trainable teens were the brought into the corps as Midshipmen to be groomed for command.
In 1801, our sparse fleet was sent to the North African coast to battle the Mussulmen pirates. Hence the U.S. Marine song, “From the halls of Montezuma (Mexican-American War) to the shores of Tripoli (First Barbary War)…” We won, but a pyrrhic victory.
Don’t be put off by the length of the book—438 pages. The type leading is large, so it reads quickly. Don’t miss the simple glossary in the back – good for unfamiliar naval terms. This is not a great book, but a good one, and the first of a series.