Paul David Nelson has written an exciting biography of an exciting figure—the military hero of the American Revolution and the Indian Wars in the Northwest Territory—"Mad" Anthony Wayne. Some of his contemporaries called him rash and impetuous, a braggart and a dandy. "More active and enterprising than judicious and cautious" was George Washington's verdict. True, Wayne had a flair for the dramatic and consciously acted the role of swashbuckler, but he proved himself one of the best and most successful military leaders of the early American republic.
Despite his reputation for madness, Wayne, as Nelson points out, was a prudent and careful officer whose military record belies the myth. When he ran out of wars to fight, Wayne turned to the political arena. Nelson shows that the qualities which made Wayne a great military leader served him well in politics. He proved himself articulate and shrewd in statecraft in a critical time for the young republic, the years just after ratification of the Constitution.