In his lifetime David Dixon Porter (1813-1891) saw sail replaced by steam, wooden ships by ironclads; by silencing the forts defending New Orleans in the Civil War he helped defeat the Confederacy; his inventions changed the face of naval warfare. Today he is remembered as much for his virulent old-age quarrels as for his achievements, but this book by the biographer of Captain John Smith (The Great Rogue) restores him to his proper niche in American naval history. The son of Commodore Porter conqueror of Barbary pirates and hero of the War of 1812, young Porter inherited both his father's brilliance and his unbridled temper. A naval genius, a trouble-maker and a daredevil, the high point of his career (and of this book) came in the spring of 1862, when by reckless bravery he silenced the guns of the forts guarding New Orleans, enabling Admiral Farragut, his foster-brother, to run his ships past them and also forcing the surrender of New Orleans. As Vice Admiral Porter he took part with Farragut, Grant and Sherman in 1863 in the successful siege of Vicksburg; in 1864, in the first amphibious naval action on record, he captured the Confederate naval base at Wilmington, N.C. As a full Admiral and ""uniformed head of the Navy"" after Farragut's death in 1870, he tried to reform the Navy and fell foul of politicians. Criticized for, extravagance, bored with peace, he turned to naval inventions, wrote memoirs and poor but successful novels, and indulged in unrestricted name-calling with his enemies, chief among them General Ben Butler. Refusing to resign, he died, still fighting, at the age of 78. A book for naval buffs, this volume also belongs in Civil War libraries.