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Captain Bligh’s Portable Nightmare is the account of an extraordinary journey, a great achievement in the history of European seafaring and a personal triumph for a man that has been misjudged by history.
At dawn on 28 April 1789, Captain William Bligh and eighteen men from the Bounty were herded onto a 23 foot boat and abandoned in the middle of the Pacific. Captain Bligh’s Portable Nightmare is the extraordinary story of the 6,705 kilometre journey that the boat made to Java. It was an amazing feat of navigation and discipline that involved attacks by islanders, continuous storms, crippling illness and near starvation.
Through the narration of the journey John Toohey skilfully interweaves the story of Bligh’s life and re-evaluates his reputation in history. Like Simon Schama’s Dead Certainties, Toohey speculates on the unwritten truths of Bligh’s life – his guilt over Captain Cook’s death in Kealakekua Bay, the myths surrounding the Bounty expedition, the trials and retributions that followed his return to England, fighting next to Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen.
John Toohey reveals Bligh as a man of his times, misunderstood by later generations. Combining extensive research with story-telling this is an extraordinary tale, an intriguing biography and a wonderful piece of history.
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Ignore the naff title; this book is a little ripper. Subtitled From the Bounty to safety--4,162 miles across the Pacific in a rowing boat it tells the little-known story of what happened to Captain Bligh after the Bounty mutineers herded him and those 18 other crewmen who refused to go along with the mutiny into a 23-foot long boat and set them adrift in open ocean. And it is a continually amazing tale. Toohey writes vividly but unpretentiously, bringing to life Bligh's youthful service with Captain Cook, an experience of mapping the South Seas that served him well when he eventually came to be marooned, as well as his Bounty experience. Navigating by the stars, baling frantically as storms filled the tiny vessel with water, and eating the foulest stuff imaginable (when a booby was foolish enough to perch on the edge of the boat they carved it up, discovering "to their joy" half-digested flying fish and squid in its stomach which they also ate "greedily"). You end up agreeing with Toohey that crossing the Pacific in a small boat under these incredible conditions constitutes "one of the greatest achievements in the history of European seafaring", and that Bligh himself, poor maligned "sadist" Bligh, was actually a thoroughly decent and even heroic figure. It is a book out of the Longitude school, but a superior example of the type, and it could just resurrect Bligh as a neglected hero. --Adam RobertsReview:
'Toohey's account retains all the adrenaline of mutiny, marooning and maritime misdemeanour, but recharges it with insight into Bligh's own character.' -- Independent
Another good addition to Fourth Estate's excellent series of popular history books.' -- Big Issue
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Book Description Condition: New. New. Seller Inventory # F-1841150789
Book Description Condition: New. New. Seller Inventory # M-1841150789