Cover image for A rage for glory : the life of Commodore Stephen Decatur, USN
A rage for glory : the life of Commodore Stephen Decatur, USN
De Kay, James T.
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Publication Information:
New York : Free Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
viii, 237 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Chapter 1: Washington city -- Chapter 2: Philadelphia -- Chapter 3: Mr. Midshipman Decatur -- Chapter 4: Honor -- Chapter 5: Glory -- Chapter 6: Legend -- Chapter 7: Susan -- Chapter 8: The Leopard-Chesapeake affair -- Chapter 9: Court-martial -- Chapter 10: Atlantic tensions -- Chapter 11: 29 degrees N x 29 degrees 30'W -- Chapter 12: Of equal force -- Chapter 13: Gales Ferry -- Chapter 14: USS President and HMS Endymion -- Chapter 15: "Dove Mi Piace!" -- Chapter 16: The Navy board -- Chapter 17: Barron returns -- Chapter 18: The challenge -- Chapter 19: Bladensburg -- Chapter 20: Afterwards.
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Material Type
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E353.1.D29 D15 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A vivid and intelligent biography of one of America's greatest naval legends.256 pp.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Born in Philadelphia of French descent and the son of a Revolutionary War privateer captain, Stephen Decatur (1779-1820) went to sea in his teens but entered the American navy relatively late. He made up for lost time, however, with his famous burning of the Philadelphia in Tripoli Harbor during the Barbary War. Between then and the War of 1812, he sat on the court-martial ofames Barron for the Leopard-Chesapeake affair, voting for Barron's guilt. The vote came back to haunt him later, after he had further distinguished himself in command of the frigate United States and of a squadron against the Algerians. The combination of Barron's vindictiveness, Decatur's pride, and probably some sharp practices by Decatur's professional enemies led to the duel in which Barron fatally shot Decatur. Though erring occasionally on the side of patriotic myth and purple prose, deay makes it clear why 46 U.S. communities and five U.S. warships have been named after this stout sea fighter, and readably summarizes an undeniably heroic life. --Roland Green Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The most celebrated naval hero of the young American Republic returns to life in this slender but rousing biography. De Kay (Monitor: The Story of the Legendary Civil War Ironclad; The Chronicles of the HMS Macedonian; etc.) recounts Decatur's naval and diplomatic exploits fighting Barbary Pirates, French privateers and the mighty British Navy in the War of 1812, the public adulation that greeted his victories, and the outpouring of grief following his untimely death in a duel. Indeed, the counterpoint between military heroics and personal vendettas forms the book's organizing theme. The flip side of the courage and gallantry expected of Navy officers was an obsession with defending one's manliness, manifested in a tremulous sensitivity to insults and a plague of dueling, which seems to have been one of the Navy's chief peacetime occupations. Despite cracking down on them in his own command, Decatur fought or participated in his share of absurdly trumped-up and elaborately choreographed duels throughout his career, culminating in his death at the hands of a former friend and mentor whose soldierly qualities he had impugned. De Kay's fast-paced account, steeped in the lore of fighting ships and full of well-drawn battle scenes, keeps the focus on Decatur's adventure story, but when the smoke clears there's also a revealing look at the code of masculine honor that sustained and ultimately destroyed him. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

Many military officers dream of winning glory in combat; fewer set out actively to seek it. De Kay, the author of several books concerning the Civil War (e.g., Monitor; The Battle of Stonington), chronicles the life of Stephen Decatur, an American naval officer whose exploits in the early American Republic have few, if any, equals and who served with honor as he sought glory in combat for himself, his ship, and America. De Kay provides the riveting details of Decatur's daring raid to destroy the captured Philadelphia in Tripoli harbor in 1804 that earned him promotion to captain at the ripe age of 25, the youngest in the history of the U.S. Navy. Decatur's keen sense of honor and ambition continued to fuel his exploits during the War of 1812, the surrender of Algiers in 1815, and his ultimate death during a duel. This work, written for the general public, flows like a novel. Highly recommended for larger public and academic libraries.-Lt. Col (ret.) Charles M. Minyard, U.S. Army, Blountstown, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

One Washington City
Two Philadelphia
Three Mr. Midshipman Decatur
Four Honor
Five Glory
Six Legend
Seven Susan
Eight The Leopard-Chesapeake Affair
Nine Court-Martial
Ten Atlantic Tensions
Eleven 29? N x 29? 30' W 113
Twelve ""Of Equal Force""
Thirteen Gales Ferry
Fourteen USS President and HMS Endymion
Fifteen ""Dove Mi Piace!""
Sixteen The Navy Board
Seventeen Barron Returns
Eighteen The Challenge
Nineteen Bladensburg
Twenty Afterwards
Notes and Comments