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

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

Paperback

By (author) Caroline Alexander

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  • Publisher: HarperPerennial
  • Format: Paperback | 552 pages
  • Dimensions: 129mm x 198mm x 28mm | 535g
  • Publication date: 2 August 2004
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0006532462
  • ISBN 13: 9780006532460
  • Illustrations note: colour illustrations
  • Sales rank: 471,654

Product description

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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Author information

Caroline Alexander was born in Florida, of British parents, and has lived in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. She studied Philosophy and Theology at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar and has a doctorate in Classics from Columbia University. She is the author of the bestselling The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition which has been translated into thirteen languages. She writes frequently for The New Yorker and The National Geographic, and she is the author of four other books, including Mr Chippy's Last Expedition, the journal of the Endurance's ship's cat.

Review quote

'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

Editorial reviews

Blending a smooth interpretation of events with primary-source material, Alexander profiles history's most famous mutiny in the same stylish manner she brought to Shackleton's Antarctic expedition (The Endurance, 1998, etc.). There's no dearth of original material to work from when piecing together what happened aboard the Bounty in 1789, when Fletcher Christian and a small band of men staged a mutiny against Captain William Bligh, and Alexander has harvested all the best of it: admiralty papers, personal letters, Bligh's logs, wills, memoirs, diaries, and even "correspondence of figures not obviously connected to events, obscure news items, and the biographies and family pedigrees of seemingly minor players." The author re-creates the crew's capture on Tahiti and the courts-martial of Bligh and the others, with their contradictory evidence and clashes of will. Considering the surfeit of interpretations, it's not surprising when Alexander concedes that "exactly why, or precisely when Christian had begun to succumb to the pressure of serving under his irascible commander is impossible to ascertain." She offers fascinating and credible explanations for the rise of the Fletcher Christian myth, and the devolution of Bligh to join the ranks of Quisling and Legree; in one scenario, Bligh's breadfruit mission was intended to supply cheap food for slaves in the West Indies, and Abolitionists created in Christian "a young gentleman who, 'agonized by unprovoked and incessant abuse and disgrace,' stood up for his natural rights and overthrew the oppressive tyrant." The discovery, years later, of the families of the mutineers on Pitcairn Island added further grist to the Romantic mill. A great sea story ("surpassed, perhaps, only by the Odyssey," the author remarks), handled with dexterity to capture characters and circumstances with faithfulness to the record and a steady feeling of anticipation for history in the making. (32 pp. illustrations, not seen) (Kirkus Reviews)