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The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on…

The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty (2003)

by Caroline Alexander

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Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
If Alexander wants to tell me a story, I want to listen. I didn't care about the bounty until she told me to. ( )
  Kaethe | Oct 17, 2016 |
A riveting account of an event which most of us feel we already know about. It is very constructed to build up suspense in the 'storytelling' of the events. It is detailed and very well researched yet still leaves many questions unanswered - not least the confusing accounts of what may or may not have happened to Fletcher Christian after the mutiny. ( )
  stephengoldenberg | Apr 6, 2016 |
Listened to the CD version, with reader Simon Prebble (one of my favorite readers). VERY DETAILED book, which seemed to me to be a bit "circular" at first. I suspect it would have been more clear to me had I been reading the print version and not had my attention torn between driving and listening carefully to names and the intricate descriptions of their backgrounds.
Definitely an interesting read, just glad I'm not to be tested on the contents as there was a bit much for me to absorb. I would consider reading the text version next time around.
Interesting to note that the history of the event was/is so strongly colored by the political activity of the day. A reminder that history is often written based on the participants ties to those with political influence. Author definitely attempted to put the event in the perspective of the times in which it occurred and how various factors contributed to the public knowledge of and opinion about the event. ( )
  KylaS | Feb 18, 2016 |
59. The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty by Caroline Alexander

I do believe the basic story of "The Mutiny on the Bounty" is widely known: A British ship named Bounty, commanded by Lt. William Bligh, was seized by mutineers led by Fletcher Christian. Bligh and a group of loyalists journeyed thousands of miles in an overloaded open boat and eventually returned to England. Several of the mutineers were captured on Tahiti, returned to England, and tried, with all being convicted. Three were pardoned by King George III, three others were hanged. Years later, one surviving mutineer was discovered living on Pitcairn Island with a few Tahitian natives and some children fathered by mutineers. But by that time, relatively few cared. The End.

Thanks to high-level family connections, shrewd counsel, bogus investigations, and trash journalism, the tale, even before it had played out, was manipulated and twisted. In the popular mind, Bligh was a despicable villain with Christian becoming a folk hero. Novels and films have been spawned by the tale, and most of them have simply entrenched that idea: Bligh was a villain, Christian a misunderstood, introverted loner-hero.

Caroline Alexander may not be the first historian to research the records for the truth, but her book is the only one on the topic that I've read. She's done a thorough and commendable job. I think she does a good job of marshaling and dispensing the facts to maintain the mystery and our interest. What dialogue there is is taken from letters, trial testimony, written reports, and the like; no fictionalizing. I wouldn't call it a page-turner, and some readers will judge it plodding. I think it's interesting, methodical, thorough. Alexander presents facts, then asks questions and roots for more information and answers.

Having reached the end, I am satisfied. The feats of navigation and seafaring are simply incredible, the mutiny itself not really surprising, the intrigue and shenanigans before, during, and after the court-martial worthy of Trollope or Dickens
1 vote weird_O | Jul 20, 2015 |
Read on a whim after stumbling across Pitcarin Islands in some other reading. A fantastic story, and I appreciated the academic flavor, as I imagined other writings sensationalizing the story. Alexander bears this out towards the end of the novel. It was easy to read, and ultimately a good book about a very fascinating topic.

The reading is a bit dry, however, and the work drags as it goes into the known details of every crew member and their various influential friends and family members. On one hand, I have a hard time begrudging it this, as they did provide sometimes essential information. On the other, I cared little about the individual fates of most men. But each person's story (both during the mutiny, their testimony at the mutineer's trial, and their testimony in public afterwards) paints an amusing whole picture, and it would've been hard to edit that information out and still be readable.

Still. At one point, I got career summaries for each of the captains at the mutineer's trial. Important to show that they were all experienced and more likely to agree with Bligh's version of events and not have much of a sympathetic ear for mutineers, but it felt excessive. The part with the trial and convictions also felt interminable. ( )
  ConnieJo | Jun 30, 2014 |
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His small vessel pitching in the squally winter sea, a young British naval lieutenant waited restlessly to embark upon the most important and daunting voyage of his still young but highly promising career.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0142004693, Paperback)

Surely 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 McGonigal

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:05 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

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 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 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.… (more)

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