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Captain Bligh and Mister Christian: The Men and the Mutiny (Bluejacket Books) Paperback – August, 2000

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Product Details

  • Series: Bluejacket Books
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: US Naval Institute Press (August 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557502307
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557502308
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,350,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Will o' the Wisp on February 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Bounty mutiny is perhaps the most fascinating and stirring sea adventure in world history, even more so than the TITANIC. Hough's book is an excellent reexamination of the story and of the complex relationship between William Bligh and Fletcher Christian. While I don't agree with Hough's conclusions as to what was really at the heart of the mutiny (I won't spoil it for you by revealing that here) the relationship was combustible and was at the heart of the mutiny.
The Bounty crew were for the most part hand-picked and young. Christian was only in his early 20s, Bligh was in his early 30s and only a very few of the crew were in their late 30s or early 40s. Despite the popular image of the story, Bligh was actually pretty lenient with his crew when it came to punishment and he made it all the way to Tahiti losing only a single man. During his epic open boat voyage after the mutiny, he made it to Coupang having lost only one man en route, although many of the survivors died within weeks of their rescue. Bligh was a complainer, a nagger and had a viciously sharp tongue though which was more than the youthful Christian could bear.
Far from the heroic image that Christian is given in the movies, Hough shows that Christian was impulsive and not much of a leader. While Bligh, sharp tongue and all, was able to save nearly all of the men who were kicked off the ship with him, Christian and his men met with disaster at almost every turn, primarily because Christian was a failure as a leader. The mutineers' disastrous attempt to settle on Pitcairn Island is perhaps the most gripping and fascinating part of the story.
Hough's book is excellent and the Mel Gibson/Anthony Hopkins movie "The Bounty" was based on it and is by far the most authentic and best of the Bounty movies.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Rumpledinkhumble on March 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an entertaining if odd little book and is much overated. I had two problems with it: 1) There are no footnotes but all sorts of two-hundred year old dialogue provided. The author has verbatim discussions taking place on the remote island that certainly could not have been recorded (but how would we know since none of it is footnoted?). Mostly, the author made it up it seems and the device shadows the credibility of the whole book. 2) And if I was not incredulous enough over the history-as-soap opera style, the author saves his blockbuster thesis for the last chapter. He agues that the crusty Captain Bligh and Spencer Christian were really gay lovers and this explains the combustibility and passions that came into play. Bligh according to this view was jealous of Christian's love affair with the Tahitian girl he later fathered three children with. The author offers not one shred of evidence for this, not one shred, and says as much in the final pages of the book. This book has an amateurish feel, written by an author who got away for too long with writing pseudo-histories. This book is not without redeeming qualities; it certainly is interesting and a good read. The 1984 movie The Bounty was based on this account, though the movie, mercifully, skipped over some of Robert Blough's more nutty conclusions.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Frank J O'Connor on May 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
Psychological insight combined with compelling storytelling make this account of the most famous mutiny in history thrilling reading 30 years after its original publication. The whole story is here in a brisk 300 pages that one regrets to have finished. Scrupulously fair to all concerned, more interested in exploring the causes of this tragedy than in assessing blame, with keen psychological discernment in limning the characters of Bligh (a truly Jeckyl and Hyde phenomenom) and Christian (beautiful, charming and weak), with a final last chapter hypothesis that is as stunning as it is plausible; but as the author admits, the reasons for this strange mutiny are ultimately unprovable. All the great mysteries, like the Kennedy assassination and the Bounty mutiny, are in the end unsolvable and that is what makes them so compelling. Thirty years on this vivid and acute examination of a certain unpleasantness in the south Pacific in 1789 must be judged a classic. I finished it with goosebumps on my flesh.
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Format: Paperback
The story of the Bounty is fascinating from many directions. One, the overall purpose of the voyage being to support the profiteering of English slave owners; the privations endured as a matter of course in the days of sail; the encounters between Europeans and non-Europeans and the way Europeans enslaved and took possession of foreign lands as a birthright; the drama of tensions building to the breaking point with the resultant mutiny and flight of the forevermore-damned mutineers; the longest open-boat ocean voyage ever up to that time; the mutineers attempt to build, and failure to sustain, a micro-colony for 28 years on an uninhabited island. All of these things make a story which is vastly compelling and able to stand alone to hold our interest without embellishment. That then begs the question why the author is intent upon sharing his own unsubstantiated theories of personal relationships, mainly between Bligh and Christian, to the detriment of the work in general.

The fact that undocumented dialog appears throughout certainly makes for a good read, but must place this book in the category of historical fiction. That is all well and good and I need to enjoy what I read, and this was very enjoyable. But the depth of the history is in question. Certainly I have no need to delve into the question of Captain Bligh's relationship homosexual or not with anybody. If there are any Bligh descendents now living, highly unhelpful. Hough's 'theory' amounts to libel as unsupported 'fact'. I see no reason to go deeper than a glimpse of the daily routine aboard a sea-going sailing ship to find all sorts of reasons why a mutiny could develop.
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