This is a solid, sturdily constructed biography of Raphael Semmes, who played a significant role in the Confederate efforts and who was a skilled naval tactician. Semmes was a seasoned, respected officer in the U.S. Navy when he resigned in 1861 to assist the Confederacy, carrying out the first Confederate war order and taking command of the first Confederate warship (the Sumter). His plan was to attack the merchant marine, and this narrative follows his route as, first with the Sumter and later the Alabama he pursued and destroyed 86 vessels until June 19, 1864, when the Kearsage finally managed to sink the Alabama. Boys with a liking for seaworthy books will be intrigued by this chapter in American naval history, and it is particularly interesting to note that German naval leaders were later encouraged to note Semmes'tactics. The book also offers some glimpses into the attitudes abroad toward the Civil War.