The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty Paperback – 2 Aug 2004
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Few episodes in the history of British sea-faring are as gripping and sensational as The Bounty--an account of a mutiny of 1789. While the French were having a revolution in Paris, in the South Pacific a very English coup took place when Master's mate Fletcher Christian deposed Captain Bligh, the ruler of his ship, and set off with his fellow mutineers for a new life in the paradise of Tahiti. The tale has all the ingredients of an adventure--Robinson Crusoe, Captain Cook, Robert Louis Stevenson and Lord of the Flies all rolled into one. And, as Caroline Alexander points out, myth and legend have often got in the way of the real truth of why the mutiny took place. She sets out to find out what really happened, and does so by not only reconstructing the fateful voyage of the ship, but also by focusing in on all the principal and minor characters in the drama.
The trouble with this book is that there seems to be too many different tales to tell and the author struggles to keep up with her narrative. Like a lost ship we set sail in one direction only to back-track and recover the same course over again. The promised treasure--why Christian really did it--is never found. Readers wanting a clearer and simpler chart might be better advised to read Captain Bligh's own famous account, and Edward Christian's defence of his brother The Bounty Mutiny and then follow-up with Greg Dening's book, Mr Bligh's Bad Language. --Miles Taylor --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
‘With this and her previous book, The Endurance, she has made the wondrous genre of open-boat-voyage narratives still more wondrous…This sounds like Conrad writing. A sea mist hangs over this age-old tale. Alexander dispels it, to the reader’s fascination. But when the facts are told and the fates of the cast duly chronicled, the sea mist settles in again, as impenetrable and yet more interesting than it has ever been.’ New York Times Book Review
‘Alexander…handles the story with great thoroughness and calm. She appears to have unearthed and examined every possible shred of evidence, and it is difficult to imagine that this will not long remain the definitive account…what Alexander does here superbly, what is new to this account, and what makes this simple story worth examining in such detail, is her revelation of how the myth grew from unsubstantiated scraps, who founded and nourished it, and why.’ Peter Nichols, Sunday Times
‘This book should find an enduring place as the definitive rendering, and its appearance should elevate Caroline Alexander to the ranks of the finest historians of teh most romantic, and most romanticised, period in British Imperial history.’ Simon Winchester, Daily Telegraph
‘Alexander profiles history’s most famous mutiny in the same stylish manner she brought to Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition in The Endurance…A great sea story, surpassed perhaps only by the Odyssey, handled with dexterity to capture characters and circumstances with faithfulness to the record and a steady feeling of anticipation for history in the making.’ Kirkus ReviewsSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
What distinguishes this book is its exploration of the social and cultural web relationships in England that were ultimately responsible for shaping how we see events that occurred far away in what was then literally the end of the world with only a few surviving witnesses -- all of whom had vital interests in how those events were interpreted. Alexander's extensive use of primary sources brings authenticity and immediacy to the story, and here careful avoidance of trying to play detective engages the reader: she lays out quite a bit of evidence and we are left to puzzle out what it means. This is refreshing, as is her through coverage of not only the events on the bounty, but the evolution of the mutineer's settlement on Pitcairn, the voyage of the Pandora, the court marshal proceedings, and the ultimate fates off the entire Bounty crew.
Only one minor complaint, which is really not unique to this book, but ultimately makes it much harder to read than it ought to be: because of the tremendous expanse of space and time covered by the events of the Bounty saga, and especially because of the extensive treatment of the web of players, relations, patrons, and other interested parties in the mutiny story, this book could have benefited greatly from more and better maps (there are only three and these are sparsely labeled and mostly decorative) and from some tables (the closest one comes is a simple crew manifest) and charts depicting the social networks.
But the captain is unceremoniously relieved of his command and cast adrift in the ship's launch with a handful of loyalists to a certain death on the high seas (or so the mutineers believed) when things turn nasty not far from Tahiti. But, the captain and his band of fellows makes his way to a Dutch trading post-cum-settlement in Timor where they are received honourably and given safe passage to Batavia, Java, the principal trading station in the Dutch East Indies. After the mutiny one faction on board the Bounty is returned to Tahiti where they settle. The remainder, including Fletcher Christian, eventually wash up in Pitcairn where the survivors were found decades later (a story in itself).
The first seeds of rebellion were sown nine months from port, and six months previously, in Adventure Bay, Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) when Bligh ticked off his carpenter - not the first of his officers to be lashed by his tongue during the voyage - William Purcell during a "wooding" expedition on shore. Apparently his billets of timber were "too long" and he responded "insolently" to Bligh's criticisms (the captain should have left well alone if you ask me) ...Read more ›
This is simply one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. Superbly well crafted, it reads like a top quality novel. Caroline Alexander carefully unfolds the drama of the Bounty, the open-boat journey that turned Bligh into a national hero and the subsequent investigations, the recapture of the mutineers and the court martials. Her narrative is packed with well researched facts ,rich in detail,that bring the story to life. The personal story of each mutineer is revealed to explain some of the rather unexpected verdicts. This is a masterpiece of scholarly research.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This must be the definitive work on the Bounty mutiny. Painstakingly researched, Alexander pieces together what took place before, during and most intriguingly, after the mutiny. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Mr. Sj Gamblin
Excellent account with penetrating insight. Well researched and outstanding evaluation of the differing accounts and the motivations of the participantsPublished 4 months ago by Vincent Formosa
nice one.you can buy worth for money www babyandnames com websitePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
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.Published 6 months ago by scooper