Ruined and then redeemed, naval commander Lord Thomas Cochrane (17751860) is presented here as a ""supreme romantic hero."" In a crisp anecdotal narrative, Thomas anchors Cochrane firmly in the context of his age, while arguing that he was a man ahead of his time in politics (he fought for reform at home and national independence abroad) and military strategy (he developed plans for gas warfare and saturation bombing). Hence, he earned the wrath of officialdom in the first quarter of the 19th century and the admiration of the succeeding generation of Victorians. Thomas does not probe deeply into the contradictory aspects of his life; that Cochrane's impact on the reform movements in Parliament and in the navy was marginal is a point more implicit than explicit. He also accepts Cochrane's reputation as a freedom-fighter when he commanded (for a price, while in disgrace in England) rebel navies in South America and Greece, and glosses over his scheme to install Napoleon as head of the ensuing South American republic. But if Thomas overstates the case for Cochrane as a significant force off the high seas, he admirably supports his reputation as a naval commander of the first rank. In the process, he draws a precise and colorful portrait of British naval life during the Napoleonic Wars. The descriptions of Cochrane's daring exploits and tactical brilliance will delight naval historians and Hornblower enthusiasts alike.