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The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty Paperback – 2 Aug 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; New Ed edition (2 Aug. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006532462
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006532460
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 2.8 x 12.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 31,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

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.

Review

‘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 Reviews

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
For an event that has been so thoroughly treated in print and on film (even on stage and in verse!) it is hard to imagine that there is room for another book on the topic. But this is it. Though not as lavishly produced as her excellent "Endurance", Alexander's latest book brings a fresh new perspective to the Bounty story and is not only an essential addition to any Bounty library, but is perhaps also the best first book on the topic.
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.
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By SAP VINE VOICE on 6 Feb. 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a tale of exploration, adventure and mutiny on board the navy cutter Bounty, commanded by Lieutenant Bligh (for he was only nominally a captain) and under orders to sail to Tahiti and thence to transport indigenous breadfruit plants from that south Pacific island 'paradise' to the plantations of the West Indies via the channel between New Holland (Australia) and New Guinea (Papua New Guinea) which they were to explore and chart for the Admiralty as the true objective.
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) ...
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Format: Paperback
I ran out of books on holiday and this was the only one left.I had just read the hottest book of the summer 'The Da Vinci Code' and the latest Frederick Forsythe. I already knew the story of The Bounty and so I was prepared for a rather dry historical narrative. I was amazed.
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The bestselling author of The Endurance reveals the startling truth behind the legend of the Mutiny on the Bounty, the most famous sea story of all time. More than two centuries have passed since Fletcher Christian mutinied against Lt. Bligh on a small armed transport vessel called Bounty. Why the details of this obscure adventure at the end of the world remain vivid and enthralling is as intriguing as the truth behind the legend. Caroline Alexander focuses on the court martial of the ten mutineers captured in Tahiti and brought to justice in Portsmouth. Each figure emerges as a richly drawn character caught up in a drama that may well end on the gallows. With enormous scholarship and exquisitely drawn characters, the whole book is a hard to put down read. I was particularly enthralled in the account of Bligh's superb seamanship when he sails his small band of survivors on the long perilous journey to the East Indies. Written with great detail you can literally step into the shoes of the central characters of this true descriptive account of a classic seafaring adventure.
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