Vice Admiral William Bligh, whose name was made synonymous with tyranny by the Nordhoff and Hall trilogy (Mutiny on the Bounty, etc.), reminisces about his life and adventures while fighting a losing battle with infirmity and his household. It's 1817, and the litigious, cantankerous, scrofulous, and demanding Bligh, now retired, alternates between sly lust for his housekeeper, tender concern for his epileptic youngest daughter, and stratagems for keeping his other daughters unmarried and at home to care for him. Between episodes in this bleak domestic campaign, Bligh recounts his version of his career and style of leadership, doing so in a blend of sweetness and rage. The historical Bligh was born in 1754 and entered the British Navy at the age of eight. In 1776, he sailed as Master under Captain Cook on his last, fatal voyage. The mission of the Bounty in 1789 was to transplant the bountiful breadfruit tree from Tahiti to the Caribbean, but Bligh's crew, led by his protâ€šgâ€š, Fletcher Christian, found the charms of Tahiti's women irresistible and cast Bligh and 18 others adrift in an open longboat, in which they survived a 4,000-mile journey. Bligh went on to other commands, took part in the mostly peaceful resolution of the Nore Mutiny in 1797, and commanded ships in the famous battles of Camperdown and Copenhagen against Napoleon's navy. His last appointment was as Governor General of New South Wales, where, in 1806, he again experienced mutiny (The Rum Rebellion) as he tried to carry out his mandate to make the Australian penal colony self-sufficient. Collett's Bligh is completely believable if unadmirable and a keen, scientific observer, however suspect in his self-justifications. This Australian writer's first novel is a valuable addition to the British naval-history shelf.