Read The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty by Caroline Alexander Online

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More than two centuries have passed since Master's Mate Fletcher Christian mutinied against Lieutenant 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. In giving the Bounty mutiny its historical due, Caroline Alexander has cMore than two centuries have passed since Master's Mate Fletcher Christian mutinied against Lieutenant 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. In giving the Bounty mutiny its historical due, Caroline Alexander has chosen to frame her narrative by focusing on the court-martial of the ten mutineers who were captured in Tahiti and brought to justice in England. This fresh perspective wonderfully revivifies the entire saga, and the salty, colorful language of the captured men themselves conjures the events of that April morning in 1789, when Christian's breakdown impelled every man on a fateful course: Bligh and his loyalists on the historic open boat voyage that revealed him to be one of history's great navigators; Christian on his restless exile; and the captured mutineers toward their day in court. As the book unfolds, each figure emerges as a full-blown character caught up in a drama that may well end on the gallows. And as Alexander shows, it was in a desperate fight to escape hanging that one of the accused defendants deliberately spun the mutiny into the myth we know today-of the tyrannical Lieutenant Bligh of the Bounty. Ultimately, Alexander concludes that the Bounty mutiny was sparked by that most unpredictable, combustible, and human of situations-the chemistry between strong personalities living in close quarters. Her account of the voyage, the trial, and the surprising fates of Bligh, Christian, and the mutineers is an epic of ambition, passion, pride, and duty at the dawn of the Romantic era.410 pages of narrative, 491 pages in total...

Title : The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty
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ISBN : 9780670031337
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 491 Pages
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The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty Reviews

  • Paul Bryant
    2019-01-20 10:00

    It all started with breadfruit.A guy called Joseph Banks spotted it when he was with Captain Cook on Tahiti. Joseph Banks later became a major ideas man and fixer for the British Empire ™ which was at that point in Phase One (steal anything that’s not nailed down in which case steal the nails and then steal it). There was a problem in the West Indian colonies – the poor slaves needed better food. As Wikipedia elegantly expresses itThe late-18th-century quest for cheap, high-energy food sources for slaves in British colonies prompted colonial administrators and plantation owners to call for the breadfruit plant to be brought to the Caribbean.So Banks commissioned an expedition. A ship was to go to Tahiti and grab up lots of breadfruit plants and ship them over to Jamaica. Sounded fairly straightforward. What could possibly go wrong?I am young in years but old in what the world calls Adversity. It has made me acquainted with three Things, which are little known, First, the Villainy & Censoriousness of Mankind – second, the Futility of all Human Hopes - & third, the Enjoyment of being content in whatever station it pleases Providence to place me inLieutenant William Bligh got the job and his little ship was called The Bounty. You may have heard of it. Captain Bligh was later played by Charles Laughton, Leo McKern, Anthony Hopkins and Trevor Howard. Off they went on 15 October 1787 with 46 men and they had a hell of a time of it, let me tell you. After 27,000 miles (they didn’t go in a straight line) on 26 October 1788 they arrived at Tahiti. They were knackered. They spent 5 months recuperating and canoodling with the local females who from all accounts were most beautiful and also most accommodating. One must therefore deduce that the Tahitian men were pretty broadminded too, but this is not mentioned anywhere. Several of the men had undergone traditional Tahitian tattooing over large parts of their body, particularly on their buttocks. All good things must come to an end so they eventually packed up their breadfruits and waved goodbye to their new wives and sailed off. At this point the mutiny happened. A very odd thing too. From all accounts Captain Bligh was the very opposite of the tyrannical naval captain handing out a hundred lashes at the drop of a hat. He really couldn’t do that anyway, because he didn’t think he could rely on his officers if push came to shove. So after three weeks sailing back to England the 23 year old more-or-less second-in-command Fletcher Christian, later to be played by Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Marlon Brando and Mel Gibson, burst into Captain Bligh’s bedroom, grabbed him up in his nightshirt and thrust him and 19 others into a small launch and bade them go to the devil. Millward, your piece is cocked, you had better uncock it as you may shoot some Person. The mutineers were sure they had seen the last of that lot. A small boat in the middle of the Pacific? They were going to drown.Why did they do it? The only reason which makes sense to me is that they had just had 5 months of all-sex-all-the-time paradise, and all that Captain Bligh was promising them was a tough voyage back to Blighty and look sharp about it. It was more dignified to complain that Bligh was an intolerable bully, though. Okay, he did have a very sharp tongue. But these were tough sailors. When men are cooped up for a long Time in the Interior of a Ship, there oft prevails such jarring Discordancy of Tempers and Conduct that it is enough on many Occasions by repeated Acts of Irritation and Offence to change the Disposition of a Lamb into that of an Animal Fierce and ResentfulBy one of the major miraculous feats of navigation, the castaways didn’t drown. Bligh by his genius and fanatical management of food and water guided the tiny boat to a Dutch colony on Timor, 4000 miles away. It took from 28 April to 14 June, 1789 during which time only one man died.Bligh then got himself back to England , arriving 14 March 1790.Two sharks were caught and in the belly of one was found a prayer book, “quite fresh… not a leaf of it defaced” In November 1790 the British government sent a ship called the Pandora to catch the scurvy mutineers and bring them back alive. (In the crew of the Pandora was one of the loyal sailors from the Bounty.) It arrived on 23 March 1791 after a serene voyage and quickly rounded up the 14 mutineers they could find on Tahiti. Unfortunately, on the way back to England, the Pandora was wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef, where Sarli, the Barrier Reef turtle lived. 31 of the crew and 4 of the imprisoned mutineers drowned. The others took to the sea on four little boats and – yes, very ironically – they more or less had to duplicate Captain Bligh’s voyage of two years previously. Later in 1791 Captain Bligh was given a second chance to bring breadfruit from Tahiti to Jamaica. This voyage was successful. But alas, as Wikipedia laconically reportsits immediate objective, which was to provide a cheap and nutritious food for West Indian slaves was not made, as most slaves refused to eat the new foodThe court martial of the mutineers, and the story of the second lot who made their way to Pitcairn Island and were discovered 15 years later is a tale too tangled to take up your time.Caroline Alexander’s long book is like this :Fascinating, wonderful dull dull dull page turning very interesting boring boring boring boring great stuff can’t put it down yawn bore bore bore interesting endShe includes way too much detail about the hundreds of participants in this tortuous history, I think I could snip out a good 80 or 90 pages. She was clearly besotted with all of the details. But the tiresome stuff is easily skippable, so for the rest of it I am tattooing a fierce four stars onto its buttocks.

  • Mikey B.
    2019-01-21 12:06

    What an epic true story! It has all the classic ingredients – conflict, romance, exploration of strange lands and survival in dire circumstances.The true hero is Bligh. Ms Alexander brings out all the historical revisionism that has occurred since that era. We tend to look at these ships’ Captains (Bligh was actually a Lieutenant) as tyrants. Indeed they were – but in the context of the era it was “normal” to insult and lash your sailors – insubordination was simply not tolerated. The ship was not a democracy of an exchange of ideas – orders were orders. Bligh used the lash much less frequently than other Captains.The author depicts at the mutiny trial how the sailors of the lower classes were executed (hung by the rope) – but three, who had “upper class connections” like Heywood, had the means to obtain a full pardon. In a sense this is much like today (most prisoners on death row are from economically depressed backgrounds). After their trials, they in turn were able to slowly revise the history of the mutiny and make Flectcher Christian (and the mutineers in general) into a romantic renegade – and Bligh the dogmatic and repressed tyrant. One must but revere these men who sailed over 20,000 miles to the other side of the world. I recently watched the movie “Apollo 13”, and while admirable, when things did go wrong they had the full cooperation and communication of HQ. On a vessel in the vast Pacific Ocean there was none of that – they had to be truly self-reliant. What skills Bligh had to commandeer a small boat three thousand miles to the closest port. This is a wonderful and timeless story. Ms. Alexander brings to life all the personalities of that long ago time period. She also does well to present us with the varying perspectives that evolved after the mutiny.

  • Jill Hutchinson
    2019-01-21 09:47

    This is an amazing book. We are familiar with the story of the Bounty, captained by William Bligh, and the mutiny, headed by Fletcher Christian but the story has morphed over the years into more of a myth. The author attempts to set the record straight but since there are so many factions for and against Bligh and Christian, that it is a matter of sorting through the conflicting stories and deciding on whose side you fall. And with that said, I can say that it is really not possible to place blame but it appears that the majority of opinion is against Christian.Being a seafaring nation, the British Naval rules were very strict and a man could be flogged for almost anything that the Captain thought was against those rules. Mutiny was punishable by death and was the worst crime that a crew could commit. Bligh, who in the myth of the mutiny, was painted as a martinet who flogged his men constantly and treated them like animals. In truth, he seldom had men flogged although his temper was notorious and he cursed his men regularly. What drove Christian and those who joined him to mutiny seems to be based on the fact that Christian was accused of stealing a coconut; hardly a reason to abandon your captain and the 18 men who remained loyal to him in a 23 foot open launch in the middle of the ocean. The most amazing feat of the entire Mutiny saga is the 48 day voyage of the open boat across 3,600 miles to Java without the loss of a man. The HMS Bounty leaves some of the mutineers on Tahiti to live with the native population and continues to Pitcairn Island where the descendants of these men still exist. But that is not the end of the story by any means and I would recommend that you read this well written history to fill in your knowledge of the ending.

  • Lorien
    2019-01-20 13:43

    I was really excited to continue my obsession with seafaring adventures and open boat journeys. This book, while well researched, gets so bogged down in the details of every person ever connected with any part of the story, that you never get a clear idea of what is going on. Perhaps if you were already familiar with the story of the Bounty (which I am not) and you really want to know extensive details like the biographies of the 12 Sea Captains who sat on the Court Martial of the mutineers, this is your book.

  • Terry Bonner
    2019-02-08 12:02

    " I picked up this book simply for some light bedtime reading and promptly lost a full night's sleep because I couldn't put it down. Alexander's painstakingly reconstructed narrative of the iconic mutiny is absolutely spellbinding.One has to admire the stamina of any historian who pours through thousands of pages of two-hundred year old letters, transcripts of courts martial, popular accounts in contemporaneous circulation and standard historical books on the subject. This is an achievement which is sure to oust Sven Walhrous's MUTINY AND ROMANCE IN THE HIGH SEAS as the definitive account of the Bounty misadventure.What I find most remarkable is Ms. Alexander's convincing conclusion that the folk tales of Fletcher Christian's return to England have a firm and almost inescapable foundation in fact. This amounts to an historical bombshell, yet she presents it concisely, logically and authoritativelyMost of us are well acquainted with the popular accounts of the mutiny. One of the first real novels I ever read was Nordhoff and Hall's MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY. One of the first campy pieces of cinematic dialogue I ever committed to memory was Charles Laughton's "I'll live to see you - all of you - hanging from the highest yardarm in the British fleet" speech. The whole story seems at once familiar and simple, like a morality play. This book refutes almost everything we thought we knew about what happened on April 28th, 1789.I won't spoil it all for you. The details in this book are plentiful and captivating. The characters are beautifully developed and richly portrayed. The author spends a great deal of time reconstructing the motives and actions of Peter Heywood (Roger Byam in the Nordhoff and Hall book; Franchot Tone in the 1935 movie). The family connections in the British gentry and their dynamics in the mutiny are examined in depth.When THE BOUNTY was released in 1984, it was praised for its verisimilitude. Ms. Alexander's book makes that film seem like the Reader's Digest version of the event. The reality was far more dramatic and much less simple than any bromance-gone-wrong between Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson.I don't know how to rate this delightful book except to say that I plan to read it again immediately. It is THAT excellent

  • J.S.
    2019-02-03 09:08

    Duty and a pile of coconutsI was surprised while reading this book that no one I spoke with had ever heard of "the mutiny on the Bounty." In 1789, Lieutenant William Bligh sailed his ship, the Bounty, to the beautiful island of Tahiti. He'd been there before with Captain James Cook, but now his goal wasn't exploration but commerce: he was to obtain breadfruit plants to start plantations in the West Indies. Bligh was a conscientious captain who looked out for the health and welfare of his men, even while insisting upon order. Unfortunately, a combination of combustible personalities, the beauty of Tahiti and its women, and a pile of stolen coconuts led to a mutiny that left Bligh and 18 other sailors abandoned on the rough seas in a very small boat. It was so heavily loaded that even small waves broke over the sides, and it seemed a certain death sentence.But Bligh managed to sail his tiny boat and crew for 3,500 nautical miles (over 4,000 land miles) through violent storms and open ocean (with almost no food!) to a safe harbor. Even more incredible was that only one man died in a clash with unfriendly islanders. News of this amazing feat and the eventual court martial of most of the mutineers who were apprehended a few years later in Tahiti, was talked about for decades. Some were hanged for their crimes, but Fletcher Christian, the one who led the mutiny, was never seen again.But the story doesn't end there. With savvy legal help, a couple of the mutineers managed to get pardons from His Royal Majesty, and several of the families involved worked hard to change the narrative of the incident. Bligh's temper and salty language – particularly over the stolen coconuts – was blamed for inciting the mutiny. But Caroline Alexander sorts through the facts and weaves a surprisingly interesting tale of the challenges of living on a small ship in a big ocean – and even tells what happened to Christian. And it's a very detailed story, with so much information that I found it slow reading in the beginning. Before long, however, I was caught up in it and couldn't put it down. She even tells where Christian and the others ended up, and what became of the community they established. The maps and illustrations were great to help follow the story, but I wished it had included a list of the 46 men on the ship and their positions at the beginning, since it was hard to tell them all apart. The extensive detail and backstory might put some readers off, but it turned out to be a great summer read.

  • Mom
    2019-01-28 10:59

    urely this exhaustingly-researched, enthralling and enthusiastically-written tome is the last word on the most famous of all seafaring mutinies, that of shipmate Fletcher Christian and against Lieutenant Bligh on the Bounty. More than 200 years have gone by since the ship left England after dreadful weather kept it harbored for months, on its mission to transport breadfruit from Tahiti to the West Indies. The mutiny in Tahiti left the mutineers scattered about the paradisiacal islands and found Bligh and 18 of his loyal crew members set adrift in a 23-foot open boat. Bligh, who'd served as Capt. James Cook's sailing master, fantastically maneuvered the crew on a 48-day, 3,600-mile journey to safety. Caroline Alexander, author of The Endurance, is never in over her head even when weaving together densely twisting narratives, or explaining the unwritten rules of the Royal Navy, of the complexities of class and hierarchy that impelled much of what happened aboard the Bounty. The book centers far more on the effort to round up the mutineers than the actual mutiny itself. The book is enlivened by the colorful commentary of the crew members themselves, gleaned from letters and court documents. Alexander does us all the favor of presenting Bligh the way he was understood and received in his day--as a brilliant navigator who, when placed in context, was not a brutal task-master at all. She roots the tyrannical figure we know so well from the movies on the last-ditch efforts of one well-connected crew member to save his own hide from hanging. --Mike McGonigalThis was very interesting. There were some times when it dragged for me, but maybe I was just distracted.

  • Shannon
    2019-02-19 17:03

    A really interesting read. My main complaint was that one of the first chapters of the book details what happened to the mutineers after the mutiny, but I didn't know who any of them were yet since I hadn't read the part of the book that actually deals with the mutiny. And then, after the bulk of the book has happened, the author doesn't revisit where the mutineers went with the boat and what life they lived before being picked up to answer for their crimes. So randomly in the middle of the book, I had to go back and reread the first chapter, now that I knew who all the people were, so I could have answers to all my questions. Why the author decided to tell the story completely out of order is beyond me. It ruins the book, if you don't read out of order. It was a really bad decision.But the rest of the book is great, if a tough slog at times. This is not a book for a layperson, but more of an academic read with much quoting of 18th century diaries and with 18th century grammar. Don't pick it up if you're not willing to think and pay attention to it. If you are willing, you will be greatly rewarded for the story of Lt. Bligh and the Bounty is a good one.

  • Nancy Oakes
    2019-02-17 16:56

    I expected this book to be excellent simply by virtue of having been written by Caroline Alexander, whose previous work, The Endurance, was outstanding. If you haven't read that one and you are interested in Shackleton, I strongly suggest you find a copy and read it. The Bounty is another one of those marvelous histories, which although documented (sources for each chapter are given at the end & thus there are no footnote encumbrances), reads likes a novel. I literally could not put this book down. Synopsis: Sunrise, April 28, 1789. William Bligh, who was actually a lieutenant captaining the ship Bounty, sent from England to the South Pacific to gather of all things breadfruit (you have to read the book to understand this)was rudely awakened at swordpoint from his bunk to be informed that he would be leaving the ship. In charge of this operation was Mr. Fletcher Christian, (and God help me, I can't help but think of Mel Gibson every time his name was brought up), who explained that he was in Hell and could no longer abide the captain's behavior. Wearing only a nightshirt, Bligh was bound and lowered into a launch. Others soon followed suit...the ship was then in the hands of Fletcher Christian and a few others of it seems, like minds. So...the question is what brought on the mutiny? Was Captain Bligh really as nefarious and evil as history has painted him? What conditions led to Fletcher Christian's decision? And then, in probably what is the true meat of this story, how were the majority of the mutineers rounded up & brought to justice? We all know that Fletcher Christian and a few of his associates landed on & settled Pitcairn Island, which lay largely undiscovered...so what was the real story here? So many questions, so many answers, from various viewpoints, keep this account lively & leave the reader wanting to read more. The book opens with the collection & transport of the mutineers who had escaped to Tahiti; some of them voluntarily going to the ship & thus their certain fates and others who had to be rounded up. The story then moves to part two, in which we are introduced to each of the crew members including Captain Bligh & Fletcher Christian. The voyage of the Bounty commences, and this part of the book ends with the mutiny. Part three recalls Captain Bligh's feat of navigation and getting himself & the others consigned to go with him back to civilization, and investigating his court-martial for losing the Bounty. Part four...the political wheelings & dealings involved with the trial of the captured prisoners...and then finally, how the name of Captain Bligh came to be permanently associated with martinet-like behavior & came to be a dirty word. Here too you will find differing views on what happened once the main body of mutineers reached Pitcairn island. One fun piece of information is worth noting. The night before the mutiny, Captain Bligh got into it with his officers about some missing coconuts. He called upon all of them to account for how many they'd eaten. Not that this is earthshaking in itself, but those of you who have read The Caine Mutiny (one of my favorite books of all time) will remember the dastardly Captain Queeg and the strawberry incident. I couldn't help but laugh and draw parallels & even wonder if Herman Wouk had incorporated this part of the Bounty mutiny into his own work. I would very very highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in this type of thing. Read it and savor it. Take it slow. Because Alexander (like any historian worth her salt) relies heavily on primary documents, the wording is often a bit difficult to read, but it is well worth the time you will take on it.

  • Janellyn51
    2019-01-27 17:10

    Read in January, 2006 review: The Mutiny on the Bounty has always been one of my top 5 favorite books and I've read socialogical studies about Pitcairns Island and other odd bits and pieces. I suppose of the three films made, The Bounty, the last, is the closest to the actual relationship between Bligh and Christian. I don't know why no one has taken the story on to life on Pitcairn. For some reason it's Pitcairn that's always intrigued me the most. This book, is really interesting, I think. If you've seen the films or read ...more The Mutiny on the Bounty has always been one of my top 5 favorite books and I've read socialogical studies about Pitcairns Island and other odd bits and pieces. I suppose of the three films made, The Bounty, the last, is the closest to the actual relationship between Bligh and Christian. I don't know why no one has taken the story on to life on Pitcairn. For some reason it's Pitcairn that's always intrigued me the most. This book, is really interesting, I think. If you've seen the films or read the book, this book fleshes out those people, it takes you where the other things left off and it's no less scary sitting with them in their cells awaiting trial for mutiny than any of the other ordeals you'd gone through with them. What got me was how the men who weren't mutineers, but couldn't fit into Blighs boat, so were left on the Bounty and returned to Tahiti were treated. Anyway, it's a must read for anyone who's into the Bounty....less (edit)

  • William
    2019-02-05 15:48

    As I only knew the story of the mutiny from the movies, I was surprised at what I learned here. This book is a thorough accounting of the complete story. At first, I didn't understand the strategy she took in writing this, as Alexander begins with the moment Britain learned there had been a mutiny, and the steps taken to prosecute it. It's only later in the book that you learn the possible reasons, and the mysterious fate of the Bounty and Fletcher Christian. Getting to the courtmartial is somewhat taxing, because the story tends to become about the connections between the principals of the story, but some details, such as Bligh's later career, were a revelation.

  • Leslie
    2019-01-26 08:49

    An excellent account of both the mutiny itself, ultimately inexplicable as it is, and of its complex aftermath. The consequences of those confusing hours aboard the Bounty in 1788 played out over many decades, and Alexander's account of the multiple competing attempts to reduce them to a satisfying narrative is particularly interesting. Fletcher Christian, the leader of the mutineers, is impossible to know. He disappears under the layers of myth that subsequently gathered around him. Peter Heywood, a captured and convicted mutineer who was pardoned and managed to have a long naval career despite his past, is a fascinatingly complex and troubling figure. And then there's Bligh, disciplined and duty-driven, who saw his reputation smeared and his actions misrepresented, the loser in a propaganda battle that he didn't know he needed to fight. He thought that doing his duty and being honourable was enough; he was wrong.

  • Ralph
    2019-01-21 16:45

    “All our experience with history should teach us, when we look back, how badly human wisdom is betrayed when it relies on itself” ~Martin Luther Warning: the following review contains historical facts that may be considered spoilers if you desire to read this book without previous knowledge of the events.I love to read books about people and events that I know little to nothing about. I had certainly heard of Captain Bligh and the Mutiny on the Bounty, but that was the extent of my knowledge. I have never seen any of the movies so I didn't know the reasons for the mutiny. This book is a thorough examination of not only the mutiny but what happened before and after the historic event. The commonly accepted reason for the mutiny was Bligh's "harsh tongue and unfair treatment of his crew"; however, the author does an exceptional job of disproving this theory. Below are some interesting things I learned while reading the book:- Bligh served as master on one of Captain James Cook's voyages. Cook was the most highly regarded royal naval officer of his day. - Bligh was on the expedition where Cook was murdered by the natives in Hawaii.- The primary purpose of the voyage was to acquire breadfruit specimens from Tahiti.- Life on the seas at the time was very regimented, strict, and difficult. It was not an easy life. Bligh did indeed flog people for insubordination; however, Alexander does an excellent job of showing that if anything he was easy on his men in comparison to other captains of the time. - Bligh and his men spent nearly eight months in Tahiti tending the breadfruit nursery and waiting for fairer weather.- Bligh's crew loved life on Tahiti and many of the men added the traditional Tahitian tattoos and became enamored with the women and the freedom of the islands.- The mutiny was led by Fletcher Christian. The author argues that the primary reason for the mutiny was due to many of the men desiring to return to Tahiti.- They put Bligh and the men loyal to him in a small boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The boat was very heavy laden and appeared dangerously close to sinking. There were men that wanted to join the captain but were not allowed due to the skills they possessed.- The penalty for mutiny at the time was death by hanging.- Bligh and his men were able to get their boat to safety and many thought it was the most amazing open boat voyage of its day. Many of them were able to make it back to England.- A ship was sent to Tahiti to apprehend the mutineers. Many of the mutineers were in Tahiti; however, the primary players in the revolt had left on the Bounty and for decades it was unknown where they went.- The ship bringing the mutineers back to England shipwrecked. Some of the prisoners died. The remaining nine were succesfully brought to England for trial.- There were four mutineers that were fingered by Bligh as innocent. After the trial they were released. Five of the mutineers were found guily and sentenced to hang. Two of the men were pardoned by the king thanks to their connections and family's money. The other three were hung. Much of the book is focused on Peter Heywood, one of the two pardoned prisoners. It really is unclear who is innocent and who is guilty. Everyone had a different story of the event. The worst offenders were somewhere free and here were the not-so-innocent bystanders that were being put to death. Injustice is a primary thread throughout the book.- Chistian and some of his loyal friends picked up their women and a few men in Tahiti and sailed to a remote uncharted island called Pitcairn. There the mutineers(all but one) were all killed by Tahitian men who were being treated as prisoners. The descendents and the last mutineer were discovered years later by Americans who helped solve the mystery of what happened to the remaining mutineers.- Since that time in many ways Christian was heralded as a man that overthrew the tyrant. Many saw him as a hero and his family back home helped to build his reputation and in the meantime disparaged Bligh.The above bullet points are all for my benefit since I have such a terrible memory.It is obvious that the author did a lot of research for the book; however, that may also be my primary complaint of the book. It was much too long and too many pages were focused on the trial. It is obvious that this is where many of the author's sources came from. I think it could have been a lot shorter. I really don't care to know the personal history of every passenger on the Bounty.I would recommend this book if you are curious about the Mutiny on the Bounty; however, don't say I didn't warn you about the length and the data overkill. I really enjoyed a previous book that was also written by Caroline Alexander. That book was The Endurance which tells of Shackleton's Antarctic expedition and shipwreck. It really is one of the most amazing survival stories of all time. If you are looking for a good sailing adventure I would start there.

  • Pamela Mikita
    2019-02-01 16:59

    A throughly researched and well written telling of the Bounty and the men who sailed on her. A complete narration of all that happened. Would highly recommend.

  • Michael Gerald
    2019-02-18 13:09

    An enlightening story on history's most famous mutiny, the context behind it, and the consequences.

  • Leftbanker
    2019-01-20 11:43

    The BountyA completely thorough and exhaustive history of just about every aspect of this case in which the author has intended to reverse the negative opinions of the infamous Lieutenant Bligh. I what we can now refer to as Exhibit A in Bligh’s defense is his astonishing navigation in the Bounty’s launch which immediately became something of a legend in British maritime circles.After Fletcher Christian had put him and the loyalists into the Bounty’s launch off the island of Tofua, Bligh, against all imaginable odds, had navigated the little 23-foot-long craft 3,618 miles over a period of forty-eight days to Timor, in the Dutch East Indies. Here, his starving and distressed company had been humanely received by the incredulous Dutch authorities. Eventually, passages had been found home for him and his men, and Bligh had arrived in England in a blaze of triumph and white-hot anger on March 13, 1790.And so begins our tale, more or less. We see this famous story in quite a new light that paints the now infamous Bligh as somewhat less a villain and possibly even the hero of this story. First of all, he was only 33 when the voyage began from Spithead so the three famous films of the mutiny are in grave error in depicting the hateful captain as an old man. It also didn’t seem to be his decision to go around Cape Horn but was something he was ordered to do. He abandoned that route after 30 futile days of battling wind and seas but without losing a single sailor. That point soon came, and on April 17, Bligh determined to abandon the Horn. Only shortly before his departure from England, almost as an afterthought, he had received (through the intercession of Joseph Banks) discretionary orders from the Admiralty to make for the Cape of Good Hope if the Horn proved impossible. This Bligh now determined to do. From here, he would approach the South Seas from the opposite side of the globe. The detour would add some ten thousand miles to the voyage, but there was nothing to be done. After twenty-five days of battle with the sea, the Bounty was, at 59° 05’ south, more or less where she had begun.There is ample evidence that Bligh was less beaty when it came to the men on his ship as his floggings were probably well below average on British vessels. So why did his mate, Fletcher Christian lead a mutiny? The answer is that there probably should have been a hell of a lot more mutinies in this age of sail. What prompted this particular bit of piracy was not so much doings of an evil master—almost all captains were hatefully tyrannical—but possibly the belief amongst the mutineers that they may just be able to pull it off. On the other side of the world from England, in little-known waters, after just having spent 5 months on a tropical paradise those in favor of a mutiny probably felt that they had better chance of a decent life outside of the law than inside.This was my second reading of the book. This time around I felt it was a little long, with a bit too much detail but the first time I read it I had no such complaints. I think that it is just as long as it needs to be. I especially enjoyed the stories about the fate of the mutineers on Pitcairn Island. This ranks as one of the best tales in all of recorded history and this book does it justice.

  • Andrew
    2019-02-05 09:09

    The Bounty is a truly amazing work of scholarhip; Ms. Alexander seems to have read every scrap of information regarding the mutiny and the subsequent lives of all persons involved. She lays out the problems with the voyage, the petty dictates of a class conscious society, the trials of men at sea with nowhere to go to get away from those they dislike, and how the trivial becomes paramount due to this closeness. For all these reasons, the book should have five stars. But... After all the scholarship, all the squinting to read spidery handwriting, all the discussion regarding the courts martial, the main question is WHY? And it is never really answered. I am not one for psychoanalyzing historical figures in the absence of evidence, but a work of this sort cries out for some interpretation as to why an event occurred rather than a sober account of what happened. She notes that Fletcher Christian is frequently quoted as saying he had been in Hell recently, but aside from saying he may have been hungover and wanting to stay in Tahiti, she never makes a judgement as to why he decided to take over the ship. Now, she does allow that another mutineer was perhaps the imp of the perverse to Christian, but at the end of the day, the mutineers followed him, why? Those questions are never really addressed. So, this book is likely the last word on WHAT happened and for that reason should be on the shelves of anyone interested in the mutiny in specific or maritime history in general. But the reasons as to WHY will have to await another book. Let us hope that it shows the same level of erudition.

  • Carol
    2019-02-03 12:00

    My husband and I decided to listen to Caroline Alexander’s The Bounty after listening to Bligh’s daily log account of the infamous Mutiny on The H.M.S. Bounty. We were hoping to clear up some questions we had regarding Bligh and his character. If you’ve ever watched any of the movies that depict the mutiny, you can’t help but come away with a bad taste in your mouth for Bligh. He is portrayed as the villain and Fletcher Christian appears to be justified in his rebellion. Alexander’s book goes into great detail about the mutiny, and the court-martial of the ten mutineers who were captured in Tahiti and brought to justice in England. Bligh, in our opinion is vindicated and seems to be the victim of Hollywood and most importantly, Fletcher Christian. We both came away feeling that Bligh had his faults, that he was a disciplinarian and cut no slack to his crew. This seems just in his role as the man who is responsible for the survival of all. William Bligh and the mutiny took place in the 1700’s so none of us were there to see it with our own eyes. We can only base our opinions on what has been recorded, researched and written about by authors and scholars. We both ended up wishing we could hear Christian’s version of the events. We are certain he would have to paint a picture to discredit Bligh but at least, we would hear it from the horse’s mouth.Bligh continues in his career and is appointed Rear Admiral in July, 1811. Not bad for a man who was scorned by many.There is much speculation on both men’s lives and their fateful encounter. If you have any interest in the subject, Alexander’s book is a good bet.

  • Jared Della Rocca
    2019-02-09 12:10

    I don't enjoy sailing. My interest in history generally begins with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and proceeds forward. And yet, I have now read not one, but TWO books dealing with 18th-century British sailors (Captains Cook and Bligh). The book on Cook was a travel novel, taking the reader along the path of Captain Cook in both the historical and current sense. But The Bounty deals from a purely historical perspective, interweaving sailors' journals, letters, and even court martial transcripts to provide a more accurate picture of Bligh. Contrary to popular image, Bligh was not only a fair and even-handed captain, but his sailing skills (successfully navigating a small boat containing the mutiny outcasts to the West Indies) were unparalleled in his time. Reading this book, though, requires the reader to relive the same moments leading to, including, and following the mutiny repeatedly, through the words of the various sailors. And again, at the court martial, which acts as both a rehash of the events and an ending to the affair. Towards the last few chapters, readers grow weary of the entire story, and will find themselves disinterested with how sailors who returned lived out their lives. Again, an interesting book that brings light to Bligh's story, but perhaps overly done.

  • Caroline
    2019-02-01 13:09

    Like most people, I'd heard of the story of the mutiny on the i>Bounty, of Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian, and the colony on the Pitcairn Islands - but I never knew very much more. This was a wonderful read; I honestly could not put it down; and I felt I learned much more than just about the mutiny itself, about Tahiti, and navigation, and the history of the British Navy.I'd always assumed that Bligh was a tyrant and Christian somewhat justified in rebelling against him, but the real story seems to be quite different. I finished this book feeling a great amount of sympathy and respect for Bligh: he seems to have genuinely had the best interests of his crew at heart, and they were treated no worse aboard the Bounty than they would have been aboard any of other Navy ship, indeed probably better. The complains and accusations leveled against Bligh seem pitiful and lacking in substance.Indeed, that would be my one criticism of this book, although it's perhaps an unfair one to level at the author. There is never any real attempt to analyse just why the sailors rebelled, why Christian led the mutiny against Bligh. But then Christian's tale was never told, his side of the story never revealed, so we'll always be left to wonder.

  • Jennifer
    2019-01-26 14:02

    My husband and I listened to this book on our drive to and from Massachusetts. We both really enjoyed it, though I think it would be an easier book to read rather than to listen to.For listening, the narrator was very good and fit the story. There were a couple times when it sounded like a completely different narrator started reading, but then the voice would evolve back to the one we were familiar with. That was very strange. Also, the first part of the book isn't chronological, which makes listening harder. And, I wish we'd had an atlas to track the journey with.For pure reading's sake, the story was very compelling. Like many, I had been under the impression that Bligh was a tyrant (even compared to other captains of his time) and it was interesting to read how one version of a tale can gain credence, leaving the truth far behind.I also enjoyed the Rashomon way the story was told, presenting one version and then the other while the truth remains obscured. Alexander could have backed one version over the other, but she remains neutral and let's the story tell itself.Alexander is a very good writer. She's clear and makes nice use of imagery. I'll have to seek out Endurance, her book on Shackleton.

  • Ken
    2019-02-19 08:57

    This is an informative and interesting presentation of Bligh’s mission on the Bounty and the events which followed. The book lends particular focus on how the Haywood and Christian families “spun” the tale after the fact to make the mutineers seem more “noble” and Bligh more “evil”. As far as I can tell, it’s a straight-up, honest and well-researched account of what really happened.However, it does seem to me that the book spends proportionally too much time on the court martial and Peter Haywood’s family and life, and not enough on the events onboard ship or on Pitcairn Island; I suppose this reflects the amount of material available on each. Further, the author assumes an understanding of geography and nautical terms that could be explicated by a glossary and more (and better placed) maps. And the narrative is quite jumpy, at least at first, going back and forth in time, when a straightforward approach would probably serve the reader better.

  • Paul Haspel
    2019-02-15 09:04

    The Bounty still sails, maintaining its place in the popular imagination. It wasn’t much of a ship, really – an ordinary three-masted merchant vessel – but it ranks with Jason of Thessaly’s Argo among those ships that have entered the realm of myth. It is the centerpiece of an epic story of love, adventure, conflict, survival, and of course mutiny. And the reader who wants a truly thorough recounting of the saga of the Bounty would do well to consult Caroline Alexander’s The Bounty (2003).Alexander’s interest in maritime history is demonstrated by her earlier book The Endurance (1998), a look at Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition of 1914. Five years later, as she sought to set forth The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty [the book’s subtitle], she followed in the footsteps of earlier Bounty historians like Richard Hough, whose Captain Bligh and Mister Christian (1973) first set forth the revisionist thesis that perhaps William Bligh was not such a villain, and Fletcher Christian not such a saint. Alexander’s book differs from Hough’s chiefly in the sheer level of detail with which she dedicates herself to the task of finding out what happened to every single person who was on the Bounty on 28 April 1789, whether loyalist or mutineer.In Alexander’s reading, Bligh is a commander whose “fundamental humanity” (p. 129) makes him the superior even of the famed Captain Cook. If he displayed a flaw in his command of the Bounty, it was in the favoritism that he displayed toward two young officers – Master’s Mate Fletcher Christian, and Midshipman Peter Heywood, both of whom later played crucial roles in the Bounty story. I was surprised that Alexander dispensed with the actual mutiny on the Bounty as quickly as she did – not quite three pages, out of a book that is 410 pages long (not counting references). Yet she sets forth well the astounding saga of Captain Bligh’s open-boat voyage with the Bounty loyalists – 3500 miles, from Tofua (in modern Tonga) to Coupang (a port of contemporary Indonesia). It is difficult to take issue with Alexander’s assessment of Bligh’s achievement: “As an almost sublime record of extreme suffering and undaunted resolution, few documents can compare with the log William Bligh kept in the Bounty’s launch” (p. 150).Alexander’s core interest in the Bounty story seems to be in Bligh, as when she thus sets forth her sense of how Bligh’s very virtues as a commander may have contributed to the mutiny:“It can be fairly said of Bligh that his great asset as a seaman was not only his unimpeachable professional skills, but his unshakable, complacent, immodest confidence in them. This confidence – the wellspring of his professional optimism, and indeed his courage – was what had enabled him successfully to command the Bounty launch on the most historic open-boat voyage yet made. This confidence in turn sprang from a relentless perfectionism, an unwavering and exacting adherence to the strictest letter of the laws of his duty. The gift of perfectionism and all that flowed from it was what Bligh sought to instill in his protégés. However, it may be that the very specialness of his relationship with these chosen young men was the weight that crushed them” (p. 315).Captain Bligh was lauded as a hero, a navigator for the ages, when word of his successful open-boat voyage made it home to England; the Bounty mutineers, by contrast, were regarded as lawless renegades rising up against legitimate authority, the way mutineers are usually regarded. What, then, caused the sea change through which Fletcher Christian became, in the popular mind, the hero of the Bounty saga, William Bligh the villain? The wealthy and well-connected families of “gentlemen” Peter Heywood and Fletcher Christian had means, motive, and opportunity for discrediting Bligh, and worked hard to rework the Bounty narrative in British popular culture.Bligh, meanwhile, does not seem to have fully understood what he was up against. “While Bligh had defended himself in crisp, logical naval fashion, he failed to comprehend that he was doing battle with a force more formidable and unassailable than any enemy he would meet at sea – the power of a good story” (p. 343). The Bounty saga unfolded as the Romantic Age began; and Bligh’s eminently neoclassical marshalling of facts, reason, and logic was no match for a mythologized Fletcher Christian as “the perfect Romantic hero – the tortured master’s mate, his long hair loose, his shirt collar open…with his gentlemanly pedigree and almost mythic name” (p. 344).At the same time, Alexander offers a fair-minded assessment of Fletcher Christian and Peter Heywood, the two best-known mutineers. Peter Heywood, convicted of mutiny and sentenced to hang, received a reprieve from King George III, and made the most of the monarch’s clemency, rejoining the Royal Navy and serving honourably for the rest of his professional career. Alexander’s judicious assessment is that “On balance…in [Heywood’s] case, justice could be said to have been fairly served; he had been found guilty, but had been pardoned to redeem himself – which he had done with, it would seem, penitence and humility. But others had been hanged – and there was the rub” (p. 398).As for Fletcher Christian, Alexander likewise offers a careful mix of sympathy and criticism: “What caused the mutiny on the Bounty? The seductions of Tahiti, Bligh’s harsh tongue – perhaps. But more compellingly, a night of drinking and a proud man’s pride, a low moment on one grey dawn, a momentary and fatal slip in a gentleman’s code of discipline – and then the rush of consequences to be lived out for a lifetime” (p. 407). In Alexander’s assessment of Fletcher Christian’s actions on that crucial day, I saw an implicit suggestion that anyone could fall as Fletcher Christian fell – indeed, as we all know that many people have fallen.I read The Bounty while traveling in Tahiti. Looking out over Matavai Bay, I imagined the Bounty anchored there, its white sails billowing in the wind, Tahitians rowing or swimming out to greet their British visitors – with no one there even imagining that the ship would become immortal as the site of history’s most notorious mutiny. With helpful maps of the areas covered by the Bounty’s voyages, both pre- and post-mutiny, and illustrations that include portraits of the principal figures in the Bounty story, Caroline Alexander’s The Bounty provides a fine and useful look at the Bounty saga.

  • Brenda
    2019-02-06 16:09

    I am not someone who usually enjoys the type of history that lists fact after fact or overwhelms one with dates. I'm a character/narrative junky. This author managed to find the perfect balance between clearly presenting facts and moving the story forward, while at the same time giving a rich, nuanced analysis of the personalities and politics involved in the myth building that happened around the mutiny. And lovely little snippets of dry/wry commentary. I.E., when she noted that Fletcher Christian's supposed last words on being shot by Tahitians he'd enslaved were "Oh, dear." I may use that on my tombstone. (Note: this is just one story of his death. I also really appreciated how clearly she illustrated the way narratives are built, and rebuilt, and deconstructed.)

  • Gavin
    2019-01-23 13:58

    Probably the most famous mutiny of all time. I live in the South Pacific, not too far from Bligh Passage, which obviously is named after the much maligned captain of the Bounty. What Alexander does is depict Bligh as a more humanitarian figure than he is usually depicted, claiming that he was given a bad press. This is probably true.What I've known for years is that the mutiny occurred because of the Tahitian women. The mutineers loved the sultry Polynesian maidens they spent five months with before the mutiny. Bligh could have been the sweetest man alive, that wouldn't have stopped the mutiny.Having said that, this book is a very interesting account of the voyage, the mutiny and its aftermath both in England and the South Seas. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

  • Frederick Bingham
    2019-02-12 13:48

    The story of the mutiny on the British ship Bounty near Tahiti in 1789. It is the classic story of Fletcher Christian, Captain Bligh, tropical paradise, breadfruit trees, etc. The story is told in tremendous detail, including discussion of the aftermath and the fates of all the participants in the affair. The story especially focuses on the story of Peter Hayward, an officer and protege of Bligh's who may or may not have participated in the mutiny. Hayward was captured in Tahiti and brought back for trial in England. He was courtmartialed and sentenced to death, but pardoned by the king. He continued a long and productive life afterward.The audiobook narrator did a decent job.

  • Michael Foley
    2019-01-25 10:58

    Very well researched and extremely thought provoking. The main issue is that the book opens up more questions than it settles disputes. The part of the book that I found most satisfying was in dealing with the celebrity status that Fletcher attains. When viewing things historically through the framework of the French Revolution, we see the rise of individualism and romanticism take root. Bligh represented the aristocratic age while Fletcher "championed" a new future of adventure. It didn't hurt that social movers and poets, like Samuel Taylor Coleridge, were firmly in the corner of the mutineers. Interesting stuff - very recommended.

  • Eddie McCreary
    2019-02-19 09:05

    Yet another nautical history book. I've known the general background of the Bounty and seen several Hollywood versions, but have never read an actual book about it.Not surprising most of what I knew was wrong; Captain Bligh was really Lieutenant Bligh, Mr. Christian was his protege and had they sailed together before, while Bligh not have been the most pleasant of men, he wasn't that bad compare to his contemporaries and was a very skilled navigator. Most important we don't really know what the core reason for the mutiny was.It was a good ready, but maybe not as readable as the histories by Nathaniel Philbrick I've read.I really would like to get a book on Captain Cook now.

  • Tracie
    2019-01-28 14:00

    This book was great for finding out the "rest of the story" about the mutiny on the ship called The Bounty. I found it a bit slow reading at times though and became bogged down in some of the endless details that were offered. Not sure I would recommend it to anyone unless you are a die hard ship story person. For an abbreviated version if you just want the facts - watch the 1980's movie "The Bounty" starring Mel Gibson. Accurate in it's presentation and it saves you from the boring details.

  • Becky
    2019-01-23 14:01

    Oh, for an editor who was not afraid to delete extraneous material!!! The Endurance was so good; I really looked forward to reading The Bounty. Note to author (and editor): just because you found it in your research does not mean you have to include it in the book. I would not recommend this book - although I did slog all the way through it.