October 1864. The fearsome Confederate ironclad CSS Albemarle had taken control of the Roanoke River and threatening the Union blockade. 21-year-old navy lieutenant William Barker Cushing hatched a daring plan: to attack the warship with a few dozen men in two small wooden boats. What followed, including Cushing's harrowing two-day escape downriver from vengeful Rebel posses, is one of the most dramatic individual exploits in American military history. Tossed out of the Naval Academy for "buffoonery," Cushing proved himself a prodigy in warfare. Given command of a small union ship, he performed daring, near-suicidal raids. With higher commands and larger ships, his exploits grow bolder, culminating in the sinking of the Albemarle. This thrilling narrative biography, steeped in the tactics, weaponry, and battle techniques of the Union Navy, brings to life a compelling yet flawed figure. Malanowski paints a vivid, memorable portrait of the army officials, engineers, and politicians scrambling to win the war. But he also goes deeper into the psychology of the daredevil soldier--and what this heroic and tragic figure, who died before his time, can tell us about the ways we remember the glories of war.--From publisher description. A thrilling narrative biography of William Barker Cushing, the Civil War's most celebrated naval hero.