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on 8 September 2013
Caroline Alexander's book about the Bounty mutiny is an astonishing achievement. Although most of the book comprises of exerts from official records and quotes from other of the numerous books written to date the author combines the story with great ingenuity and light handedness to create a formidable, compelling read. What I like about the book over all other accounts of the mutiny is the order in which the author intertwines this fascinating tale of mutiny with a vivid account of the historical period in which it transpired and how the changing attitudes of the times influenced public opinion of the mutiny. The mutiny happened in an age of transition, only months before the French Revolution took place and at the dawn of the age of romanticism, spearheaded by Lord Byron. Erroneously perhaps, Fletcher Christian became the ultimate Byronic hero by enacting a mutiny against a tyrannical captain in a part of the world perceived to be paradise. The story is made more fascinating by the cast of colourful characters. This wasn't a crew mustered by "uninformed illiterates" as they were know in those times, the two main protagonists of the mutiny, Christian and Heywood came from prominent political and naval families. This was the major factor that contributed to the vilifying of Bligh as the cause and culprit of the mutiny. Literary giants such as Wordsworth and Coleridge crop up in the book frequently, both of whom had personal connections to some of the main protagonists of the mutiny. For example Coleridge's poem The Ancient Mariner is said to be loosely based on the mutiny, Wordsworth attended the same school as Christian and all three men originated from the same part of England. The book is full of trivia pertaining to the age and the literary figures, in an historical context. The author draws no conclusions and makes no statements of bias or prejudice, readers are left to assimilate the massive body of evidence and draw their own conclusions on innocence and guilt, blame and culpability. This is the definitive book on the mutiny on the Bounty but readers who only want to read about the actual mutiny itself would probably be better served reading an alternate (shorter) version. This book is about so much more than the mutiny itself.
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on 7 April 2013
This was very detailed except for the chapters on the trial of the mutineers brought back to the UK, this was just long and boring. Otherwise an excellent book which romped along well and was very exciting. I like her final conclusions drawn about the possibilities of what could have happened to Fletcher Christian. Can't believe what an ordeal the captain and his loyal crew went through after being set adrift in the sea, and all true!
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on 16 January 2016
Well researched and thorough, but rather dull and pedestrian, particularly towards the end. Read Richard Hough for a moving and exciting version of the Bounty story.
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on 20 August 2013
This book makes the reader want to travel to the islands of the south seas, especially Tahiti, and the island of Ptcairn
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on 18 January 2013
Easier to listen to the book rather than read it.
Its in sections so you can re listen.
Fabulous True story
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on 1 January 2015
Im researching family history and I'm related to one of the mutineers. Facinating insight.
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on 22 September 2011
For all this is a lengthy, detailed, well written examination of the Mutiny on the Bounty and it's aftermath, it still left me with little idea of what finally prompted Fletcher Christian to take the ship. Was it really the accusation of the theft of coconuts, a longing to return to life on Tahiti, a psychotic episode or, perhaps, drunkenness?

Alexander does attempt to outline the general reasons that may have been behind the mutiny but does not speculate about what might have been going on in Christian's head that fateful night. One might argue that it's not the job of a historian to do so but his utterances, to more than one crew member, at more than one time, about "being in hell" seem to me to demand at least a stab at some sort of an explanation.
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on 1 August 2010
I bought this book on the basis of the several newspaper and other reviews which lauded its "definitive" nature. Have only recently got around to reading it, and completed the reading feeling greatly annoyed and irritated for a number of reasons. Would-be purchasers should be warned that this book is a far from easy read and requires the utmost peace and quiet in which to tackle it - it is written in the ponderous and measured [= slow and heavy, and to our eyes today, "pretentious"] 18th century style of the English of its principal archival sources. Moreover, the author has failed the first test of any competent historian, which is not to allow the sources to master the historian, instead of the other way around. It is only in the last two chapters that, finally, one begins to "feel" the historian mastering the sources and being able, then, to convey to the reader a clear (and clearer) historical account.
In other words, virtually everything the author came across in any of her archival documents somehow has to find its place in these pages. Consequently, the nub of the story - precisely why the Bounty mutiny "actually" occurred - easily gets lost in a welter of "other" information about the nature of English society and its navy in the 18th century (and the "Bounty") that overloads not only the pages of the book but also the mind of the reader until one begins to feel like a mountaineer on Everest running out of intellectual oxygen. Much of that information and material, whilst interesting in a peripheral kind of way, should either have been omitted altogether, or better still, pared to the bone by an historian whose main eye should have been on the essentials of the story in order that a far more accessible version of this interesting and important historical event be presented to the reader. Nevertheless, for "Bounty" afficionados, one has to acknowledge that this is an essential book to read, although for essential reader satisfaction concerning the subject one's heart sinks at the realisation that this particular book is only the jumping-off point for further investigation(s). And speaking of which, especially for historians amongst its readership, footnote references to the book's sources would have enhanced its presentation. The general and generalised section "A Note on Sources" is most definitely NOT a satisfactory way of leading readers to the historian's sources for this or any other book.
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on 22 June 2015
bought as a present and very well received.
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on 21 January 2016
Stupendous. Wonderful,detailed research.
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