This is the biography of Com. W.B. Cushing, USN, whose exploits in the Civil War have never had the attention they merited. The heroic, madcap adventures, which led to victory at Forts Fisher and Anderson, thereby opening the way to the last major Confederate port of Wilmington, North Carolina, are the stuff of which fiction in made. When it became essential at any cost to sink the ironclad Albe, the young officer, Com. William Barker Cushing, conceived and executed one of the welinigh incredible feats of naval history. He balanced his small craft on the logs protecting the powerful ship, and while an enemy gun prepared to blast him and his crew to bits, he calmly set off his torpedo beneath the logs. Cushing's daring and ingenuity (he had used a dummy ironclad to bluff the Confederate forces into abandoning Fort Anderson) had won him his command of his own gunboat. His rapid rise and increased responsibility proved a virtual Horatio Alger story (though one questions whether any of Alger's heroes entered Annapolis at fifteen). The biographers have depended on Cushing's own letters and on contemporary records, and for some tastes have hewed too closely to the line of scholarship where the individual involved would seem to demand another type of treatment. His triumphs in action are episodic in the handling; his personality- when not in action-seems almost bland, not that of- as Farragut called him-""the hero of the War"" ... Charles Van Doren's name as co-biographer will give this a special eclat.