Best Defense

Was Captain Bligh a micromanager?

As it happened, almost immediately after finishing the Steve Jobs biography, I read Nordhoff and Hall’s Men Against the Sea, about Capt. William Bligh’s epic voyage across the South Pacific after being ousted by the mutineers who took HMS Bounty from him. He sailed 3,600 miles in an open 23-foot boat that was carrying 19 ...

Wikimedia
Wikimedia

As it happened, almost immediately after finishing the Steve Jobs biography, I read Nordhoff and Hall’s Men Against the Sea, about Capt. William Bligh’s epic voyage across the South Pacific after being ousted by the mutineers who took HMS Bounty from him. He sailed 3,600 miles in an open 23-foot boat that was carrying 19 men, losing only one en route (to hostile locals). Most people couldn’t get a boat loaded like that across the swimming pool. He brought it across an Atlantic-wide space.

Like Jobs, Bligh was a toxic leader — yet clearly the right man to pull off such an extraordinary feat of seamanship.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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