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

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  2,424 ratings  ·  297 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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Terence
Jan 10, 2012 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: London Review advert
There is a section in Mark Edmundson’s Why Read? where the author discusses the difference between “literature” – those works of prose and verse that are read and discussed for generations – and what isn’t – those works that may be well written and engaging but don’t have the power or impact that survives the ages. Two of the authors he chooses to illustrate this are Homer and Stephen King. The distinction, Edmundson writes, is that Homer (and “literature” in general) challenges the reader. He m...more
Chris
So I have a somewhat guilty secret. I sorta, kinda, like the movie Troy, at least up to the part where Hector gets killed. I know it has its problems, least of all Orlando Bloom as Paris (really, him?), but I still enjoy it.

I've always had a thing for the Trojan War. The first "grown up" program I was allowed to watch was Michael Wood's In Search of the Trojan War. I couldn't stay up to watch it, but I was allowed to watch the next day (god bless the VCR, may it rest in peace). I always tended t...more
Christopher H.
Caroline Alexander says in her Preface to The War That Killed Achilles that "this book is about what the Iliad is about; this book is about what the Iliad says of war."

I loved this book! It is extraordinarily well-written, and to the point at 225 pages in length (plus another nearly 50 pages of end-notes). While scholarly, it reads very well. Alexander takes us through the Trojan War's cast of characters in chapters that cover topics like "Chain of Command", the "Terms of Engagement", "In God We...more
James
This is an excellent book to read in conjunction with your latest rereading of Homer's Iliad, which is just what I have recently done. Caroline Alexander manages to emphasize the relevance of the Iliad for today by exploring references to other literature and deepening the meanings found within the Iliad by the reader. While Homer's epic stands alone for the serious reader, the addition of these resources widens the breadth of possibilities of understanding for the reader and, in my case, assist...more
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
Bill P.
I really enjoyed Alexander's Bounty book and picking up her analysis of the Illiad was a no brainer. I give high marks to her treatment and interpretation of the Illiad as well. The blurbs on the book jacket from other authors and generals were a bit of an exaggeration, but the background and interpretation of this most classic tale was well worth the investment of time and money. And unlike Hollywood, she didnt change the endings.
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
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
Anna
It's no secret that the Iliad is important to me; in what was once referred to as "the most pretentious tramp stamp ever," I've got the first three words (menin aeide thea, the beginnings of the invocation of the Muse) tattooed at the base of my spine. It's a fitting place for these founding words of Western poetry, at the root of the spinal cord, the walled-in fortress of the nervous system (and, to switch traditions, the location of the kundalini chakra). In many ways, the Iliad is Western cul...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
Sarah
I really liked this - it was slightly different than I expected, though. The subtitle, "The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War," made me think that this would be a factual, historical breakdown of what happened and what didn't, but it was actually a far more literary analysis of The Iliad, and how, even as one of the world's emblematic epic poems, it is completely different from the epics of its day. It brought a lot of things to my attention that I hadn't thought about, and I really...more
MikeFromQueens
Excellent in-depth interpretation with references to recent events and referrals to recent history. I had not thought of the rationale why the other Argives' kings would firmly back Agammemnon for ten years, but C. Alexander presents a Greek rationale that all were at one time suitors of Helen, and I can agree with that conjecture. Hektor is all the more my favorite mortal in this epic as Alexander paints his portrait of a man with a family.
Nicole
Having only vaguely encountered The Iliad before, I enjoyed listening to this book very much. A good mix of bits of archeology, lots of textual analysis, and a smattering of commentary on current events. Probably there are many better scholarly works on the subject, but this was good enough for the layperson and also engaging. Michael Page does a pretty good job as the reader.
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
Andrew
I picked up this book for more perspective on The Illiad and The Odyssey after re-reading part of The Odyssey. It was unsatisfying in shedding more light on the history and writing. Indeed, a travel book titled "No Man's Lands" was more helpful.

Though Alexander wrote this book from a number of lectures, it is oddly unfocused.

Indeed, the focus of The Illiad and this book are on Achilles and of prophecies that the hero could remain comfortably at home -- or go to war and his death but have his li...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
Jeffery Moulton
I have to admit I was pretty disappointed with this book. I was expecting more analysis of war itself through the lens of the Illiad rather than a recounting of the Illiad with just a few paragraphs here and there about how it relates to modern warfare. This book had potential, especially given our current environment, to show the real costs of war as they are illustrated through Homer's epic, but it spent almost all its time recounting the story of Achilles than actually doing analysis. Having...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
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
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
Barksdale Penick
I took a class in 10th grade that did nothing for a term but read the Iliad, and while I have a few distinct memories of insights and observations from the highly enthusiastic teacher, after reading this book it is apparent how little I appreciated of the essential dramatic structure of the epic. This retelling of the tale reminded me of an abridged version of Gibbons Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which excised long sections not germane to the overall flow. The War of Achilles also menti...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
Katie Lawrence
This book didn't have a storyline or a plot. Instead there were passages of the Illiad and the author explained what parts of the story meant. It was interesting to hear alot more of the background of the story.
My reaction to the book was one of suprise. The book looked alot more interesting in the beginning than it did at the end. Near the end of the book there were a bunch of names and it really confused me. For example Achillles is also called Peleus' son. These names were interchangeable so...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
Jennifer
Based on the interview I heard with the author, I expected this book to make more connections between war (in general) and the Iliad (in particular). There were some, but I expected that to be the meat of the book.

Also, I've not read the Iliad and only read the Odyssey in high school (a terrible translation that was not even in poetry form).

With those caveats, this book was very interesting. Alexander bring the book to a nice climax and does a good job contrasting the immortal gods with the very...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
Emily
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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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...
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