The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty
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The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  2,067 ratings  ·  174 reviews
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 c...more
Hardcover, 491 pages
Published September 15th 2003 by Viking Adult (first published January 1st 2003)
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Mikey B.
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 n...more
Lorien
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, thi...more
Mom
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...more
Terry Bonner
" 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 whic...more
Janellyn51
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...more
Caroline
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 st...more
Andrew
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 scholars...more
John and Kris
If I ever own a boat the name will be: Bounty’s Launch.

Alexander’s The Bounty is an excellent and thorough read about all that makes the Mutiny on The Bounty still intriguing today.

On the morning of April 28, 1789 Lieutenant William Bligh’s H.M.S. Bounty was taken in the South Pacific, near Tahiti, by a band of mutineers led by Master Mate, Fletcher Christian. Bligh, in just his night shirt, was forced into the small, 23-foot launch, weighed down with eighteen loyalists and enough provisions for...more
Ralph
“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...more
Carol
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 in...more
Jared Della Rocca
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 p...more
Jennifer
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 li...more
Ken
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 Haywoo...more
Christina Dudley
An utterly absorbing, well-researched account of the famous mutiny, its characters, the events leading up to it, and its aftermath. Alexander renders a sympathetic Bligh, which I was glad of--maybe I've been reading too many Horatio Hornblower books. Leaders make decisions, and part of leadership entails a degree of unpopularity with those under you. Everyone supposedly liked Fletcher Christian until he had to take charge of the mutineers--next thing you know there's all kinds of infighting and...more
Gavin
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 be...more
Brenda
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 Christ...more
Eddie McCreary
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...more
Frederick Bingham
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...more
Michael Foley
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...more
Tracie
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.
Chris
The quality of the writing was inconsistent, and Alexander interjected way too much guessing disguised as "analysis."
Walt
Well-written, but surprisingly inaccurate in several important events.
yexxo
Caroline Alexander hat es sich zur Aufgabe gemacht, jede noch so kleine Information, die in irgendeiner Art und Weise mit der Meuterei auf der Bounty zu tun hat, herauszufinden und in ihrem Buch festzuhalten. Diejenigen, die einen oder auch mehrere der zum Teil berühmten Filme zu diesem Thema gesehen haben, werden von der Fülle an neuen, auch recht überraschenden Details verblüfft sein.
Doch genau dies wird zum Problem der Hörbuchfassung: Jede Person, die in irgendeiner Form in der fraglichen Zei...more
Josephus FromPlacitas
An interesting look into redcoat-era naval culture (the redcoats are coming! The redcoats are coming!), although the historical documentation forces it to take Captain Bligh's side and the side of the court martial, with little good insight into the piratical mutineers' point of view. Such is the documentation, I suppose. In the end, she makes a pretty strong case for Bligh's reputation as a tyrant being way overblown.

It was diverting to see how the relatively small story of the Bounty mutiny fi...more
Oliver
The Mel Gibson/Anthony Hopkins film "The Bounty" from the 80s was on TV a few weeks ago and I flipped it on while getting ready to take a nap. I hadn't seen it in years. All I remembered was Mel Gibson and Liam Neeson being pretty young in it, Anthony Hopkins shouting a lot and it having a cool 80s soundtrack by Vangelis. I fell asleep after the attempted rounding of Cape Horn and woke up about an hour later as The Bounty left Tahiti. For some reason I was a little intrigued by the story. I thin...more
William Battersby
The Mutiny on the Bounty is one of those 'household name' events in history which everyone thinks they know all about.

This book shows how false those apparent certainties are. Caroline Alexander relies almost entirely on primary sources - Blight's journal, the letters of Nessie Heywood (sister of one of the men accused of mutiny), to build up the picture in the reader's eye of the events leading up to the mutiny and beyond. She underplays the ambiguities in all this but as she constructs her nar...more
Nancy Oakes
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 boo...more
Lora Cooper
Thanks to Caroline Alexander and her fascinating and carefully researched book, we can recreate for ourselves a new view of the Bounty story, especially now that she has unearthed for us new information on those complex characters Wm. Bligh and Fletcher Christian.
She tells us that Bligh was a superb navigator and that in his 2and1/2 years with Capt. Cook, he learned his most valuable lessons in command, adding that "even in in his most towering rages, he was incapable of the vengeful brutality...more
Jenny
The story of the mutiny on The Bounty is so compelling that it's no wonder people are still talking about it 200 years later. I first heard about it when I saw the Mel Gibson version of the film back in the 80s and later, the even better version starring Brando. In each of those version, Fletcher Christian is portrayed as the sympathetic hero, suffering under the tyranny of Capt. Bligh. What I loved about Caroline Alexander's book is that I feel I got a more accurate (and very thorough) picture...more
Maria
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...more
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Caroline Alexander has written for The New Yorker, Granta, Condé Nast Traveler, Smithsonian, Outside, and National Geographic. She is the curator of "Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Expedition," an exhibition that opened at the American Museum of Natural History in March 1999. She lives on a farm in New Hampshire.
More about Caroline Alexander...
The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition War That Killed Achilles, The: The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War Mrs. Chippy's Last Expedition: The Remarkable Journal of Shackleton's Polar-Bound Cat Lost Gold of the Dark Ages: War, Treasure, and the Mystery of the Saxons One Dry Season

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