Captain Bligh and Mr.Christian: The Men and the Mutiny Hardcover – 1 Sep 1972
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Captain Bligh & Mr Christian: The Men and the Mutiny
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Top Customer Reviews
It must be said first of all that there has been fabulous research done by Richard Hough and this is a great read for anyone with an interest in the Bounty mutiny. I recommend it with no hesitataion at all. The story is always pushed along nicely and you will learn things you may never have known. I was particularly impressed with the way the lives of the two men are discussed after the mutiny. Hough doesn't rush through this period, he makes it as engrossing as the mutiny itself.
The conclusion he reaches as to why the two men fell out in such a dramatic way is controversial, but it does seem to have a certain logic, although we may never know the real reason. This book doesn't suffer by Hough's opinions at all and when so much hard work has gone into a book like this, you have to respect his opinion.
Buy it without delay, it really is a most interesting read and gives a new insight into this famous story.
I was however disappointed with the quality of the book I received. I often buy second hand because I prefer hardback copies, I only ever purchase when they are described as "very good" or "like new". This book was acceptable at best. Would not purchase from this seller again.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Bounty crew were for the most part hand-picked and young. Christian was only in his early 20s, Bligh was in his early 30s and only a very few of the crew were in their late 30s or early 40s. Despite the popular image of the story, Bligh was actually pretty lenient with his crew when it came to punishment and he made it all the way to Tahiti losing only a single man. During his epic open boat voyage after the mutiny, he made it to Coupang having lost only one man en route, although many of the survivors died within weeks of their rescue. Bligh was a complainer, a nagger and had a viciously sharp tongue though which was more than the youthful Christian could bear.
Far from the heroic image that Christian is given in the movies, Hough shows that Christian was impulsive and not much of a leader. While Bligh, sharp tongue and all, was able to save nearly all of the men who were kicked off the ship with him, Christian and his men met with disaster at almost every turn, primarily because Christian was a failure as a leader. The mutineers' disastrous attempt to settle on Pitcairn Island is perhaps the most gripping and fascinating part of the story.
Hough's book is excellent and the Mel Gibson/Anthony Hopkins movie "The Bounty" was based on it and is by far the most authentic and best of the Bounty movies.
If you were like me and are new to the Bounty story, and don't know the details, this is a great starting point. I read it as I would a novel, not knowing the ending. The book begins by recounting the mutiny itself (no spoilers are in this review), then the first half of the book is the events leading up to the mutiny, followed by the aftermath.
Most of the book is written as pure history. Some parts are told in novel-form, complete with dialog. Some have complained that this makes the book historical fiction, I suppose by some narrow definitions that may be true. The author explains that the dialog is verbatim from the historical record, or derived from narrative transcripts.
The book I found to be overall sympathetic to Bligh, though it is obvious he is not without his faults. Through most of the book Christian's motivation is described as "madness" or "being in hell". It is essentially up to the reader to decide why Christian cracked-up. In the last chapter of the book (last 10 pages) the author puts in his own personal opinion, which I found myself partly agreeing with and partly disagreeing with.
This book is history superbly told. I found the second half so gripping that I read it in nearly one sitting. The 1980's movie based on this book is decent, but several key points relating to the mutiny and events afterwards differ from the book, which is curious, since the movie is based on the book.
The fact that undocumented dialog appears throughout certainly makes for a good read, but must place this book in the category of historical fiction. That is all well and good and I need to enjoy what I read, and this was very enjoyable. But the depth of the history is in question. Certainly I have no need to delve into the question of Captain Bligh's relationship homosexual or not with anybody. If there are any Bligh descendents now living, highly unhelpful. Hough's 'theory' amounts to libel as unsupported 'fact'. I see no reason to go deeper than a glimpse of the daily routine aboard a sea-going sailing ship to find all sorts of reasons why a mutiny could develop.
I doubt that there are more than a few people in a thousand nowadays who could tolerate the conditions in the Royal Navy of the 1780's, much less do so for years at a time. Any one of us now would reach the breaking point long before month 17. I find it no wonder that mutiny occurred – the story is worth knowing about, without added psychologizing, and I recommend this book, but with a grain of salt.