The Marine Hymn begins with the well-known (to many) lines From the Halls of Montezuma/ to the Shores of Tripoli James L Haley’s newest novel The Shores of Tripoli: Lieutenant Putnam and the Barbary Pirates (TBP November 2016 by GP Putnam and Sons) gives us the story behind that line with a well detailed piece of historical fiction that weaves together both historical persons as well as the key character of a young lieutenant named Bliven Putnam.
The first in a new series, the story begins with the young Midshipmen Putnam going aboard the USS Enterprise and engaging in hand to hand combat to save both his life and the life of one of his fellow Midshipmen, Sam Bandy. Upon his return the young and more emotionally sober Putnam returns to his Connecticut home and finds himself, as did other sailors, waiting for orders to return which did not come for a year and half.
In the meantime, Bliven develops an affection for young woman who pledges herself to Bliven in marriage at a future point. With tensions on the rise between the Kingdom of Tripoli and the US, Bliven again sails into the fray and as part of the legendary cross desert march to take the city of Derna and end the conflict.
The Shores of Tripoli is an engaging and well told story filled with colorful characters, very detailed descriptions of those early American warships and naval tactics combined with a descriptive narrative of a young nation in which the stress and strains of issues like slavery cast shadows over relationships among the main characters.
I liked this book because though it is historical fiction, it provided me with some background on a period of US history that I have not been fully acquainted with. I think that this novel would be a wonderful addition to an American History class studying the time period covered by this book. I also liked this book because Haley does a wonderful job of story telling.
I gave this book a four-star rating on Goodreads.
Note: I received an uncorrected proof of this book via the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.