Naval War College Review


Wade G. Dudley


Accomplished historian and author James de Kay captures the essence of an age, as well as the spirit of a man, in his biography of Commodore Stephen Decatur. This finely written narrative, aimed at a general readership, may lack the scholarly apparatus expected of his- torical monographs, but it certainly does not lack the scholarship and analysis that is the hallmark of de Kay’s work. Yet if this book sometimes appears to be a cross between an action-thriller and a hagiography, there is a reason. Decatur’s active quest for fame and glory, as well as the deep sense of honor that would clip short his thread of life at age forty-one, earned the commo- dore a place in the hearts of his coun- trymen perhaps more appropriate for a saint.