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

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


By (author) Caroline Alexander

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  • Publisher: HarperPerennial
  • Format: Paperback | 552 pages
  • Dimensions: 149mm x 214mm x 19mm | 535g
  • Publication date: 2 August 2004
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0006532462
  • ISBN 13: 9780006532460
  • Illustrations note: colour illustrations
  • Sales rank: 250,429

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

The mutiny on board HMS Bounty has become one of the most abiding of all the great sagas of the sea. Over the years, myths and legends took their place alongside the facts, creating a distorted version of history. William Bligh was often portrayed as a harsh and ruthless captain while the mutineer Fletcher Christian was romanticised into an avenging hero. Caroline Alexander takes a fresh look at this famous historical event, employing extensive research to bring new information to light. Using contemporaneous accounts, she allows the mutineers to tell their story in their own words. This is an adventure story full of colour and excitement, complete with exotic locations, death and disease, dissent and rebellion and survival against all odds. On 28 April 1789, just before sunrise, master's mate Fletcher Christian and three other armed men entered the cabin of their captain, William Bligh, tied him up and took control of the ship. Under the disturbed command of Christian, they put Bligh and other dissenters into a 23-foot craft and sent them out to sea, certain that they would perish. Against all the odds, Bligh commandeered the little ship across 4,162 miles of frequently perilous oceans to safety in the Dutch East Indies. The drama of their 45 days adrift, surviving on meagre portions of food and water and catching sea birds to eat, is vividly conveyed. Throughout the ordeal, Bligh held on tenaciously to his sanity and his navigational expertise to ensure the survival of his desperate crew. When he finally returned to England in 1790, the Admiralty mobilised an expedition to hunt down the mutineers and the story tracks the details of the fate that awaited Christian and his followers. This account of the story begins before the Bounty sailed and ends with the death of the last participant, looking at the backgrounds and personalities of the men and how these might have influenced events. The personal letters and accounts give the narrative an immediacy that recreates the atmosphere of the time. This is history at its best. (Kirkus UK)