James L. Haley
Listen this Wednesday as we chat with award-winning author, James L. Haley. His latest book, THE SHORES OF TRIPOLI: Lieutenant Putnam and the Barbary Pirates, was released last month by J.P. Putnam’s Sons.
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James L. Haley is the author of twenty books, mostly history of Texas and the American West. Critically he is known as a practitioner of what is called “narrative history,” presenting a subject that some might find dry or academic in a lively and compelling way. His most recent book is THE SHORES OF TRIPOLI: Lieutenant Putnam and the Barbary Pirates (Putnam, November 2016), the first of a series of American stories in the mold of the British Horatio Hornblower and Master and Commander series.
James wrote his first book, The Buffalo War: The History of the Red River Indian Uprising of 1874-1875, when he was 22 years old, and it is still in print. Prizes he has won include the Western Writers of America Spur Award for biography twice (once for Sam Houston, and once for WOLF: The Lives of Jack London), and the T. R. Fehrenbach Book Award from the Texas Historical Commission twice (once for Sam Houston, and once for Passionate Nation: The Epic History of Texas). He is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters and a Fellow of the Texas State Historical Society.
In 2013 the University of Texas Press published The Texas Supreme Court: A Narrative History, 1836-1986. Not a history of Texas laws, it shows how the Texas Court helped to tame the frontier, and lead other states in such areas as women’s rights by blending its ancient Spanish civil law heritage with the common law of the United States. In 2014 St. Martin’s Press published Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii, detailing the islands’ journey from independent kingdom to American state. James is also the author of four novels, three of them historical: The Kings of San Carlos (Doubleday), about life on an Apache Indian reservation; The Lions of Tsavo (Bantam), about man-eaters who stalked the Uganda Railroad in 1898, and his most recent, The Shores of Tripoli: Lieutenant Putnam and the Barbary Pirates.
James grew up in Fort Worth, Texas. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Texas at Arlington with a B.A. in Government-Pre Law. He attended the University of Texas School of Law for two years before resigning to pursue a literary career.
Review Excerpts of THE SHORES OF TRIPOLI: Lieutenant Putnam and the Barbary Pirates
“A marvelous and richly enjoyable novel, and the intended series to follow promises to do for the American Navy. . . what C. S. Forester and Patrick O’Brian did for the Royal Navy. It is that good.… More, please.” —Wall Street Journal
“. . . page-turning action . . . informative asides on slavery, farming, alcohol, and social class. . . . With O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey having made his last voyage, this early 19 th century sailing series promises to be a worthy successor.” –Kirkus Reviews
“It’s no surprise that Haley’s command of historical detail here is superlative, and his adrenaline-inducing descriptions of cannon-fueled sea battles are also first-rate. . . . A rousing sea adventure.” –Booklist
“This wonderful book is, in historian Barbara Tuchman’s words, “a distant mirror.” An absolute must read. –Historical Novels Review
The first novel in a brilliant new series by award-winning historian James L. Haley, featuring young midshipman Bliven Putnam as he begins his naval service aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. 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 submit to their religion. Young Bliven Putnam, great-nephew of Revolutionary War hero Israel Putnam, is bound for the Mediterranean and a desperate battle with the pirate ship Tripoli. He later returns under legendary Commodore Edward Preble on the Constitution, and marches across the Libyan desert with General Eaton to assault Derna—discovering the lessons he learns about war, and life, are not what he expected. Rich with historical detail and cracking with high-wire action, The Shores of Tripoli brings this amazing period in American history to life with brilliant clarity. —Penguin Random House