Although this is the first adult biography in many years of the naval hero of the War of 1812, it is seriously flawed by an imprecise writing style and the undiscriminating compilation of details. Dillon, a popularizer of American frontier history (The Legend of Grizzly Adams, 1966; Burnt-Out Fires, 1973), offers to military buffs an interesting chronicle of Perry's career and the early history of the US Navy, as well as an intensive treatment of the landmark Battle of Lake Erie. Naval terms abound (many unfortunately undefined), and there is a sharp focus on both battle highlights and the less dramatic problems of morale, supply schedules, training, and the conduct of war on a limited budget. Dillon neglects, however, to put the 1812 war in larger political context, and his great admiration for Perry often leaves the reader with a mouthful of sugar. On the stylistic side, redundancies (""movement. . . was set in motion""), distracting metaphors (""An anvil of psychological weight""), and fancy roundabout phrasing (""On the penultimate day of the year""), together with a stagey build-up of suspense and an overenthusiasm for arcane synonyms, dull the edge of this adventure story. And Dillon has thrown everything into the soup: multi-page letters quoted in full and all the minutiae of times, dates, and places. To be dispensed only as needed.