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After completing a thorough examination of primary sources, Skaggs traces Perry s development from a midshipman to commodore where he personified the best in seamanship, calmness in times of stress, and diplomatic skills. But this work is not a hagiographic treatment, for it offers a candid analysis of Perry s character flaws, particularly his short temper and his sometimes ineffective command and control procedures during the battle of Lake Erie. Skaggs also explains how Perry s short but dramatic naval career epitomized the emerging naval professionalism of the young republic, and he demonstrates how the Hero of Lake Erie fits into the most recent scholarship concerning the role of post-revolutionary generation in the development of American national identity. Finally, Skaggs explores in greater detail than anyone before the controversy over the conduct of his Lake Erie second, Jesse Duncan Elliott, that raged on for over a quarter century after Perry's death in 1819.