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 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 todayof the tyrannical Lieutenant Bligh of the Bounty.
Ultimately, Alexander concludes that the Bounty mutiny was sparked by that most unpredictable, combustible, and human of situationsthe 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.
The New York Times - Verlyn Klinkenborg
A sea mist hangs over this age-old tale. Alexander dispels it, to the reader's fascination. But when all the facts are told and the fates of the cast are duly chronicled, the sea mist settles in again, as impenetrable and yet more interesting than it has ever been.
The Washington Post - Jonathan Yardley
As Caroline Alexander argues in this meticulously researched and smoothly readable revisionist history, the central part of the Bounty legend -- that William Bligh was a tyrannical captain and Fletcher Christian a heroic rebel -- simply is not true.
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.).
Alexander's work is destined to become the definitive, enthralling history of a great seafaring adventure.
Booklist - Joanne Wilkinson
Starred Review. A rollicking sea adventure told with enormous confidence and style.
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