David Poyer is a Naval Academy graduate, retired naval officer, and Distinguished Visiting Writer at USNA. His novels have been required reading in the Literature of the Sea course there, along with those of Joseph Conrad and Herman Melville. Poyer has spent thousands of hours researching articles for Shipmate, the U.S. Naval Academy's magazine, of which he is the contributing editor. Extensively footnoted, these extraordinary stories of adventure and courage span American history from the Civil War to the War on Terror. This book sheds light on corners of history that still affect us today. For example, our huge prison population can be traced to Richmond P. Hobson, the force behind today's draconian drug sentences. Merian C. Cooper was both an air ace in World War One and the direction of the iconic KING KONG. Philo McGiffin, a prankster at the Academy, became a high-ranking officer in the Imperial Chinese Navy, surveying many of the islands China claims today. Other graduates held bridges under fire, sacrificed their lives to save shipmates, shot down snipers with pistols, rescued fellow aviators on enemy territory, advised presidents, led Iraqi militias . . . and much, much more. But Poyer tries not to engage in hero worship. Some of his subjects weren't good fathers, sons, or family men. Others didn't always act as nobly later in life as they once had. Still, for at least one shining moment, each of the men and women profiled stood on the mountaintop, and made the difficult choice: To risk it all, for flag, country, honor, and those they led into battle.