In the continuing saga of the James family, Francis James searches for his son Martin, but is feared lost at sea. Landis James carries out a last mission for the army, then goes home intent on putting armed conflict behind himself for good. Thomas James joins American naval heroes Stephen Decatur, Edward Preble and William Bainbridge in a blockade against the Barbary pirates of Tripoli. William Eaton, learning that Francis James is a captive in Tripoli, proposes a land campaign to augment the blockade. Catastrophe strikes when the USS Philadelphia runs aground off Tripoli and Thomas James and 307 hostages are captured. Landis joins Eaton and his ragtag army in a desperate struggle across 500 miles of Libyan desert to free the hostages.