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Life and death in Eden : the story of the…

Life and death in Eden : the story of the Bounty mutineers and Pitcairn… (1999)

by Trevor Lummis

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In 1789, nine mutineers sailed the HMS Bounty in search of the most remote island possible in which they could live out their lives, safe from British retribution. Accompanied by 6 Polynesian men and 12 women, they settled on Pitcairn Island, a tiny speck of land only 2 miles across, an island whose location was unknown to the rest of the world. Twenty years later, when the island was discovered by an English ship, only one of the original male colonizers was left -- John Adams, who oversaw a small thriving community. What happened during that 20 year period has remained a historical mystery, partly because Adams himself offered conflicting and self- serving accounts.

In Life and Death in Eden, Trevor Lummis reconstructs the history of the colonization of Pitcairn Island. It is a fascinating account that involves murder, vicious rivalries over women, conflicts between the sexes, alcoholism, and tragedy; indeed, four years after landing, 11 of the 16 men were dead, and by five years later, Adams was the only man left. Lummis' account reads like a mystery tale, as he unravels who killed whom and why, and the nature of the conflict between the European and Polynesian men (it was largely over women). He likewise documents the evolution of the community into a peaceable society, and briefly sketches the history of the island through the 18th and 19th centuries.

I found this book fascinating; my review doesn't do it justice. For anyone interested in the Bounty mutiny and its aftermath, this book is essential, but anyone with interests in maritime history or Pacific Islands is likely to find this book well worthwhile. ( )
4 vote danielx | Jul 23, 2011 |
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