This is posted on Rodney Ho's AJC Radio & TV Talk blog on Thursday, October 27, 2016
Brian Kilmeade of "Fox and Friends" began his career as a sports guy but he also became fascinated with American history.
And when he saw fellow hosts Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly sell huge numbers of books about key historical events, he decided to get in the act as well. First up was "George Washington's Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution" in 2013, which was a best seller and sold almost a million copioes.
He followed that up earlier this year with "Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates," which recently came out on paperback. On Friday, he will visit the Barnes & Noble on Barrett Parkway in Marietta at 6 p.m.for a book signing. (Details here.)
Kilmeade, whose radio show is heard on News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB from midnight to 3 a.m. daily, will also record his radio show live from 9 a.m. to noon at WSB headquarters.
The war with the countries on the Barbary Coast in the early 1800s signaled to the world that the United States were the real deal as the country used its naval forces for the first time in combat. But as Kilmeade notes, Jefferson's resume is so full of notable achievements, winning the Barbary Wars is often a footnote. "It is one of his finest achievements," Kilmeade said.
And while pirates have been given a romantic sheen in fiction and are a popular Halloween costume, they have tormented merchant ships for centuries. In North Africa in the Mediterranean Sea, Muslim pirates plundered and pillaged ships from Christian countries often with impunity. Some countries were able to bribe their way to safety but the United States in its early years lacked the funds.
America eventually negotiated some treaties but the four Muslim countries (Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers and Morocco) kept upping the ante. Jefferson in 1801 ultimately sent the fledgling Navy and Marines to blockade Tripoli, not knowing that Tripoli had already announced war against the U.S. Correspondence back then was primitive and news often took months to reach its intended destinations. "Communication was tough even between ships," Kilmeade said.
Kilmeade loved that he was able to highlight the heroic achievements of many of the military men including Stephen Decatur and Edward Preble . (Decatur, he noted, could have become president but got into one of those annoying duels and died in his foyer.)
And he, of course, ties in what happened two centuries ago with what is going on in 2016 regarding terrorism, how extremists twist their religious tenets for violent and selfish means. "I'm not talking about Zeus or Apollo, things that didn't happen," he said. "I'm talking about things that may help us understand what's happening today."
He was also fascinated by the interplay between John Adams and Jefferson, each who took a different path toward the Barbary Coast. Adams pushed more for diplomacy. Jefferson ultimately chose war.
"They didn't like each other," he said. "They were both very intelligent yet had differing opinions. I can't believe it's still going on. We are still thinking about whether we can talk our way out of it. Look at Iran. They take our men hostage and keep asking for more and more money. That's what happened in Algiers and Tunis and Tunisia.
Clearly Kilmeade agrees that military strength deters or reduces terrorism, that this is how our baby republic started growing up in the eyes of the world.
As for all the Roger Ailes-fueled turmoil Fox News has faced, Kilmeade said it's like switching coaches going into the Super Bowl. "We are still the same championship team. Now we just got a new coach. We are not there to judge and react. We're here to produce. That's the attitude I've taken."
He admits he has not talked to former "Fox & Friends" host Gretchen Carlson since she sued Ailes and led to his departure. But he said he has no beef with her. "She did my radio show every week for six years," he said. "If she had a problem with me, she wouldn't have done that for free."
6 p.m., Friday, October 28
Barnes & Noble.
50 Barrett Pkwy, Suite 3000 Bldg. 3
Marietta, GA 30066
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