A naval historian who has brought immediacy to various events in naval history here gives a monumental vindication of Admiral John Byng, who was tried and executed on trumped-up charges of ""treason"" by a British Admiralty court-martial in 1757. The incredible procrastination and stupidity of the shaky government of the Duke of Newcastle desperately needed a scapegoat. They had lost the Mediterranean island of Minorca to France at the beginning of the Seven Years' War, and the fact that Admiral Byng had been assigned to a dilapidated squadron made possible putting the blame on his shoulders. Biographical detail, historical factors are drawn from contemporary diaries, newspapers, Admiralty reports and other sources, and a vivid picture emerges, not only of the Admiral but of many of his contemporaries,- the Duke of Newcastle, Henry Fox, Horace Walpole among them. The pernicious patronage system in all branches of government comes through in minute and convincing detail. Once more the capacity for research, the authenticity of historical detail, and the sense of drama are apparent as they were in, for instance, his Graf Spee: The Life and Death of a Raider. Absorbing and rewarding reading.