Cover image for The Bounty [the true story of the mutiny on the Bounty]
Title:
The Bounty [the true story of the mutiny on the Bounty]
Author:
Alexander, Caroline, 1956-
Personal Author:
Edition:
Abridged.
Publication Information:
New York : Penguin Audiobooks, [2003]

â„—2003
Physical Description:
5 audio discs (approximately 6 hrs.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Subtitle from container.

Compact disc.
Language:
English
Corporate Subject:
Subject Term:
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780142800294
Format :
Audiobook on CD

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Summary

Summary

Just before sunrise on the morning of April 28, 1789, in the far reaches of the South Pacific. Master's Mate Fletcher Christian and three other men, armed with cutlasses, bayonets and a musket, apprehended Lieutenant William Bligh and placed him and eighteen officers and crewmen in a small boat. This mutiny on board His Majesty's armed transport Bounty impelled every man on a fateful course - Bligh and his loyalists on a historic boat voyage. Christian and his followers on their restless exile. Bligh himself returned to Britain as a hero, but that was not his final destiny. Ten of the Bounty's crew were eventually captured in Tahiti and brought back to England in irons to face their day in court and it was in the dynamics and politics of their court-martial and its aftermath that the story we know - or think we know - as the mutiny on the Bounty was shaped. The facts of the mutiny itself are told in Admiralty records, but for the truth behind the story Alexander has ranged further, gleaning details from the wills, diaries and correspondence of figures not obviously connected to the events, from obscure news items and from the biographies and family pedigrees of seemingly minor players. She casts a radical new light on the events, on Bligh's character and on a welter of family connections and special interests that play crucial roles at different moments in the story. Using contemporary accounts, and particularly the mutineers' own testimony, she allows the men themselves to conjure the events and transport the reader back to the deck of the Bounty, to exotic islands in the South Pacific and to the back rooms of British naval power. Only when we look at the whole story, from beforethe Bounty left England until well after the death of the last participant, do we understand what happened and why.


Summary

Master's Mate Fletcher Christian and three other men, armed with cutlasses, bayonets and a musket, apprehended Lieutenant William Bligh and placed him and eighteen officers and crewmen in a small boat. This mutiny on board His Majesty's armed transport Bounty impelled every man on a fateful course - Bligh and his loyalists on a historic boat voyage.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Countless rebellions have taken place since Fletcher Christian overtook Captain William Bligh in 1789, but it is the story of the mutiny on the Bounty that has taken permanent hold of the public's imagination, to be played and replayed on stage and screen. Why this is so is amply demonstrated by Alexander's ( The Endurance, 1998) fast-reading and gripping narrative, which draws on a host of primary-source materials, including letters, diaries, logs, and court transcripts, to provide an in-depth, well-researched look at all the elements that went into the history-making event. From the overly cramped quarters of the ship to the enticing depiction of the generous and sensual Tahitians to Fletcher's elusive motivations, Alexander leaves no detail unexamined. She makes a convincing case that Bligh has been unjustly maligned, mainly due to the machinations of mutineer Peter Heywood, who escaped the hangman's noose at his court-martial but sought to deflect evidence of his central role by exaggerating accounts of Bligh's temper tantrums; furthermore, Alexander underlines Bligh's navigational skills with hair-raising descriptions of his 4,000-mile voyage in an overloaded open boat, which brought the loyalists to safety. Other narrative highlights include the discovery, after many years, of the mutineers' families on Pitcairn Island. A rollicking sea adventure told with enormous confidence and style. --Joanne Wilkinson Copyright 2003 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

A contributor to the New Yorker, Granta, Cond? Nast Traveler and National Geographic, Alexander brings the past to life with travel narratives spanning continents and centuries. Alexander (The Endurance) again recreates a high seas voyage, retelling a familiar story-of the South Pacific misadventures of the small British naval vessel the Bounty-yet taking a fresh look at the drama. Commanded by William Bligh, the Bounty left England in December 1787 to transport breadfruit trees from Tahiti to the West Indies. During the 1789 mutiny, Bligh and crew members were set adrift in an open boat and eventually returned to England. Bligh-who up until now has been viewed as a tyrant-was praised at the time, Alexander finds, since "no feat of seamanship was deemed to surpass Bligh's navigation and command of The Bounty's 23-foot-long launch, and few feats of survival compared with his men's forty-eight-day ordeal on starvation rations." Alexander's reconstruction of the mutiny and its aftermath (thanks to her exhaustive research through books, reports, newspapers, correspondence, historical societies and archives) is almost as remarkable as Bligh's feat. She details daily events during the captured mutineers' court-martial, expanding on court transcripts. Separating facts from falsehoods and myths in the closing chapters, she finally turns to the life of the mutineers on Pitcairn Island, noting "this fantastic tale of escape to paradise at the far end of the world had the allure of something epic." Alexander's work is destined to become the definitive, enthralling history of a great seafaring adventure. Maps and illus. not seen by PW. (On sale Sept. 15) Forecast: Ads, a 15-city author tour, a 20-city radio satellite tour and first serial in the New Yorker are sure to send readers sailing into bookstores. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Alexander sold 750,000 copies of The Endurance in hardcover alone, so following up with the tale of another shipboard tragedy was probably smart. A 15-city author tour; first serial to The New Yorker. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

PRELUDE Spithead, winter 1787 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. William Bligh, aged thirty-three, had been selected by His Majesty's government to collect breadfruit plants from the South Pacific island of Tahiti and to transport them to the plantations of the West Indies. Like most of the Pacific, Tahiti--Otaheite--was little known; in all the centuries of maritime travel, fewer than a dozen European ships had anchored in her waters. Bligh himself had been on one of these early voyages, ten years previously, when he had sailed under the command of the great Captain Cook. Now he was to lead his own expedition in a single small vessel called Bounty . With his ship mustered and provisioned for eighteen months, Bligh had anxiously been awaiting the Admiralty's final orders, which would allow him to sail, since his arrival at Spithead in early November. A journey of some sixteen thousand miles lay ahead, including a passage around Cape Horn, some of the most tempestuous sailing in the world. Any further delay, Bligh knew, would ensure that he approached the Horn at the height of its worst weather. By the time the orders arrived in late November, the weather at Spithead itself had also deteriorated to the extent that Bligh had been able to advance no farther than the Isle of Wight, from where he wrote a frustrated letter to his uncle-in-law and mentor, Duncan Campbell. "If there is any punishment that ought to be inflicted on a set of Men for neglect I am sure it ought on the Admiralty," he wrote irascibly on December 10, 1787, "for my three weeks detention at this place during a fine fair wind which carried all outward bound ships clear of the channel but me, who wanted it most." Nearly two weeks later, he had retreated back to Spithead, still riding out bad weather. "It is impossible to say what may be the result," Bligh wrote to Campbell, his anxiety mounting. "I shall endeavor to get round [the Horn]; but with heavy Gales, should it be accompanied with sleet & snow my people will not be able to stand it....Indeed I feel my voyage a very arduous one, and have only to hope in return that whatever the event may be my poor little Family may be provided for. I have this comfort," he continued with some complacency, "that my health is good and I know of nothing that can scarce happen but I have some resource for-- My little Ship is in the best of order and my Men & officers all good & feel happy under my directions." At last, on December 23, 1787, the Bounty departed England and after a rough passage arrived at Santa Cruz, in Tenerife. Here, fresh provisions were acquired and repairs made, for the ship had been mauled by severe storms. "The first sea that struck us carryed away all my spare yards and some spars," Bligh reported, writing again to Campbell; "--the second broke the Boats chocks & stove them & I was buryed in the Sea with my poor little crew...." Despite the exasperating delay of his departure, the tumultuous passage and the untold miles that still lay ahead, Bligh's spirits were now high--manifestly higher than when he had first set out. On February 17, 1788, off Tenerife, he took advantage of a passing British whaler, the Queen of London , to drop a line to Sir Joseph Banks, his patron and the man most responsible for the breadfruit venture. "I am happy and satisfyed in my little Ship and we are now fit to go round half a score of worlds," Bligh wrote, "both Men & Officers tractable and well disposed & cheerfulness & content in the countenance of every one. I am sure nothing is even more conducive to health. --I have no cause to inflict punishments for I have no offenders and every thing turns out to my most sanguine expectations." "My Officers and Young Gentlemen are all tractable and well disposed," he continued in the same vein to Campbell, "and we now understand each other so well that we shall remain so the whole voyage...." Bligh fully expected these to be his last communications on the outward voyage. But monstrous weather off Cape Horn surpassed even his worst expectations. After battling contrary storms and gales for a full month, he conceded defeat and reversed his course for the Cape of Good Hope. He would approach Tahiti by way of the Indian Ocean and Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania), a detour that would add well over ten thousand miles to his original voyage. "I arrived here yesterday," he wrote to Campbell on May 25 from the southernmost tip of Africa, "after experiencing the worst of weather off Cape Horn for 30 Days....I thought I had seen the worst of every thing that could be met with at Sea, yet I have never seen such violent winds or such mountainous Seas." A Dutch ship, he could not resist adding, had also arrived at the Cape with thirty men having died on board and many more gravely ill; Bligh had brought his entire company through, safe and sound. The Bounty passed a month at the Cape recovering, and was ready to sail at the end of June. A still arduous journey lay ahead but Bligh's confidence was now much greater than when he had embarked; indeed, in this respect he had shown himself to be the ideal commander, one whose courage, spirits and enthusiasm were rallied, not daunted, by difficulties and delays. Along with his ship and men, he had weathered the worst travails he could reasonably expect to face. The long-anticipated silence followed; but when over a year later it was suddenly broken, Bligh's correspondence came not from the Cape, nor any other port of call on the expected route home, but from Coupang (Kupang) in the Dutch East Indies. The news he reported in letters to Duncan Campbell, to Joseph Banks and above all to his wife, Elizabeth, was so wholly unexpected, so unconnected to the stream of determined and complacent letters of the year before as to be almost incomprehensible. "My Dear Dear Betsy," Bligh wrote with palpable exhaustion to his wife on August 19, 1789, "I am now in a part of the world that I never expected, it is however a place that has afforded me relief and saved my life.... "Know then my own Dear Betsy, I have lost the Bounty ...." Excerpted from The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty by Caroline Alexander All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.