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Commander Will Cushing

Commander Will Cushing Cover

Commander Will Cushing

Daredevil Hero of the Civil War

By Jamie Malanowski

W. W. Norton & Company, Hardcover, 9780393240894, 304pp.

Publication Date: October 20, 2014

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Description

Theodore Roosevelt said that Cushing "comes next to Farragut on the hero roll of American naval history," but most have never heard of him today. Tossed out of the Naval Academy for "buffoonery," Cushing proved himself a prodigy in behind-the-lines warfare. Given command of a small union ship, he performed daring, near-suicidal raids, "cutting out" confederate ships and thwarting blockade runners. With higher commands and larger ships, Cushing's exploits grow bolder, culminating in the sinking of the Albemarle.

A thrilling narrative biography, steeped in the tactics, weaponry, and battle techniques of the Union Navy, Commander Will Cushing brings to life a compelling yet flawed figure. Along with his three brothers, including one who fell at Gettysburg, Cushing served with bravery and heroism. But he was irascible and complicated--a loveable rogue, prideful and impulsive, who nonetheless possessed a genius for combat.

In telling Cushing's story, Malanowski paints a vivid, memorable portrait of the army officials, engineers, and politicians scrambling to win the war. But he also goes deeper into the psychology of the daredevil soldier--and what this heroic and tragic figure, who died before his time, can tell us about the ways we remember the glories of war.

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