The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty

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9780006532460: The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty

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 focusses 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 Bounty is a tour de force.

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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

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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Alexander, Caroline
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Alexander, Caroline
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