46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2002
This is one of the greatest seafaring stories ever told--the ill-fated voyage of His Majesty's armed transport Bounty . . . under the command of Lieutenant William Bligh.
The three novels which comprise this trilogy vividly illuminate the tragic collision of two implacable personalities--William Bligh and Fletcher Christian. Both men were unquestionably capable, courageous, and born leaders. Mr. Bligh ruled by intimidation; Mr. Christian by persuasion. Arguably, it's a parable of two ages, two incompatible social attitudes--the stifling aristocracy of the 18th century, and the burgeoning democracy of the 19th--smashing head-on aboard a cramped vessel in the middle of the Pacific.
Briefly, the three novels:
Mutiny On The Bounty. As seen through the eyes of a young, inexperienced midshipman, on his first voyage, witnessing the outlandish temper tantrums of a captain seemingly bent on inciting a riot--all but daring his men to strike back. Juxtaposed against this reign of terror is the heavenly beauty of the South Pacific and the island of Tahiti, where a simple society lives in quiet, natural splendor, without the bonds of an orderly "civilization." But of course the British are indomitable.
Men Against The Sea. What becomes of William Bligh after he and 18 loyal men are set adrift on the morning of the mutiny? Nothing short of the greatest feat of navigation and survival known to man. For more than forty days and nights, Bligh's fathomless nastiness is channeled into battling starvation, thirst, scalding heat, horrific storms, and hopelessness--aboard an open boat so overcrowded that one could never be free of the touch of one's fellow passengers--nay, not one man was able to lay down with his legs stretched out for even a minute. Not to mention, any island they came upon, offering fresh fruit and water, was peopled by savages who liked nothing better than to bash white men's brains out with a club. But Bligh prevailed.
Pitcairn's Island. And what becomes of Fletcher Christian and his fellow mutineers after Bligh is set adrift? Wracked with guilt for his crime--both against Bligh and his cohorts for condemning them to a fugitive's life--Christian struggles to find a home for his men among the still-uncharted islands of the Pacific. He ultimately discovers the uninhabited Pitcairn's Island, and all hands agree to settle there. At first, the mutineers and their Tahitian wives and friends create a harmonious society upon this beautiful isle. But too soon prejudice and avarice take root, and their Garden of Eden spirals down into a veritable Hell. Only as they reach the point of extinction do the inhabitants reign in their wantonness, and work together as a whole, and actually do create a new Eden of mutual respect and love . . . but only after an appalling loss of life.
I unreservedly recommend this book.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
This book is, quite simply, a fabulous trilogy of novels. It deals, of course, with the two-year voyage of HMS Bounty from England to Tahiti, the captaincy of Captain William Bligh, the mutiny against him, and the aftermath. This is an unforgettable story, beautifully told, well-written, and fast-paced.
I have read reviews here and there that claim this book is written at a "young adult" level. Not so. This is a complex story that only seems to be easily told because the author has mastered the ability to write with utter clarity, and without sacrificing style. As one who reads all day for a living (attorney) I have learned to appreciate authors who can write well. Nordhoff does this--the reader never loses the storyline because it is well told. The novels proceed with the precision of a laser beam but with a poetic, wistful, thoughtful tone that is a delight to read. This book has class.
The story of the trip to Tahiti and the mutiny which takes place early on the return voyage are wonderfully told. The ONLY possible criticism is that this story is not terribly true to the facts of the actual mutiny. The protagonist, Roger Byam, is an imaginary person. By the way, this novel is the source for the first of the Mutiny on the Bounty movies starring Charles Laughton.
The other two novels in the trilogy deal with the voyage by Captain Bligh and those of the crew who remained loyal to him, and the aftermath of the mutiny when the mutineers settle on Pitcairn Island. Both stories are first-rate.
Persons interested in a somewhat more accurate depiction of what happened on the Bounty voyage, as well as a ripping good movie, will want to see "The Bounty" starring Mel Gibson (Fletcher Christian) and Anthony Hopkins (Captain Bligh).
The Bounty Trilogy is a book anyone who enjoys adventure will want to read and own.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2000
I read this book when I was in Jr. High School (required reading in one of my English Classes) and this was the book that really motivated me into recreational reading. After having to read some Dickens and Shakespear as well as some other "Classic" authors, I was not expecting a book like this. This was an adventure. Very exciting. Very suspensful. This is what reading is about. I purchased this book recently and relived the adventure after more than 25 years and found it hadn'd lost any of suspense. GREAT READING. Give it to a young reader and get them excited about reading. I don't understand why schools don't require more books like this to motivate kids to read instead of the reading assignments that keep Cliff Notes in business. Other authors that I like reading are James Clavell, Gary Jennings, Tom Clancy and Herman Wouk and this book fits in the same catagory of Historical Adventure.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2004
This is an amazing epic of 18th mutiny of the H.M.S. Bounty. Although the tale has been fictionalized as an historical novel, it portrays the conflicting cultures of that time as the forces of racism, imperialism, autonomy and autocracy clash on the high seas. The trilogy is comprised of three novels: The first is Mutiny on the Bounty which chronicles the abuse of Captain Bligh, the mutiny led by Fletcher Christian narrated by midshipmen Roger Byam. Men Against the Sea, narrated by ships surgeon Thomas Ledward, picks up the tale at the mutiny and chronicles the amazing feat of Captain Bligh in returning 19 souls to England after being set adrift in a twenty-three foot longboat with only seven or eight inches of freeboard. The trilogy concludes with the tragic, yet redeeming tale of Pitcairn's Island where the mutineers made their home.
On the surface, Captain Bligh is the villain and Fletcher Christian is the hero. This has been ingrained into our culture to such an extent that any hard-driving taskmaster will not doubt inherit the name Captain Bligh by those under his charge. Yet, Nordoff and Hall resist the temptation to draw these lines so clearly. Yes, Captain Bligh was his own worst enemy. He was so sold out to an autocratic model of leadership that he was incapable of recognizing the autonomy of his men- the needs of his men were subordinate to the success of his mission. Now, men will often subordinate their needs to the need of the mission, or even give their lives for it, if the mission is a noble one; but supplying breadfruit to feed slaves did not fit that bill. Yet, once set adrift, Bligh now becomes the hero navigating his overloaded longboat 3600 miles to safety- a deed that must rank as one of the most remarkable feats of seamanship and leadership in history.
This is also a story of imperialism and racism- the two are inexorably intertwined. British imperialism, carrying the white mans burden to the South Seas, lead to the inevitable conflict between the two races. The sailors, obviously enjoyed the company of the Tahitian woman, even fell in love with them; yet, the idea that the white race was superior was a festering boil just under the surface that exploded when the mutineers made their home on Pitcairn Island. It is interesting to note who was the more civilized race when the conflict arose on Pitcairns Island, the European men acted like savages, whereas we see a measured dignity among the Tahitian men.
What I find interesting about the other reviews written on this book, is the omission to mention what specially brought peace to the Island- it was the rediscovery of the Bible and man's submission to the will of God. Without transcendent values, each man was out for himself and the result was anarchy and death; but when the survivors submitted their will to God's will, peace and harmony was restored. This is an amazing epic and well worth the read.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 1999
I read the trilogy while traveling to Tahiti and was enthralled by the juxtaposition of the 200 year old narrative, which seems quite accurate, and the modern day Tahiti. The people are no less engaging than they were in the time period of the book. The feat of Bligh is made more impressive by first hand viewing of the seas and the islands, and feeling the strength of the currents...and the rapid changes in weather, etc.
A modern visitor could long for the more idyllic times, and one can fear the impact of modern culture on the values of the people of the islands. But, the book provided a much welcomed alternative to the views I had first hand, and I was able to detect much of the same spirit among the Tahitian people I met in my short stay.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2013
I recommended this book to my 18 year old son. Being a teenager, of course he refused, but eventually picked it up and read a few pages. That was all it took; from then on he was glued to the trilogy and then reread the whole thing. He raved about it to his friends and, in his early 20s had scraped up enough money to make a visit to the Bounty crew's camping area on Tahiti. There is no choice; we all must read the Bounty Trilogy. If you can get a copy illustrated by N.C. Wyeth, better yet.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2002
The very last story, Pitcairn Island, might be the most interesting account of real events I have ever read. It tells the story of Fletcher Christian and his band of deserters after they take command of the HMS Bounty. They seek out an isolated island that the British Navy will never be able to find. Without giving away too much, their utopian community soon starts being torn apart by jealousy, greed, and alcoholism. Mid story, after a horrific series of events, the story flashes into the future when a whaling vessle passes close to a steep isolated island. The captain reluctantly pays a visit to the lone male leader of the island and it soon dawns on him that this is the ONLY survivor of the Bounty mutineers! This is a great moment in the book that somehow manages to tug at the heart after all that has gone on before. The story then jumps back to tell the remainder of the story in one of the most interesting studies of human nature out there.
This story is devoid of "bad guys". The native men have their point of view, the women have their view, and the English have their views - not as groups but as individuals. All of them want to live in a peaceful utopia, but they also have their own wants, which often conflict with each other. They all have their flaws, most rooted in 18th century beliefs, but none of them are evil.
After reading personal notes of Bligh and factual accounts I'm convinced Bligh was in fact a good person who was perhaps too lenient with his crew rather than too harsh. He even let women stay aboard the ship overnight while at Tahiti and the health of his crew was always his top priority. He was probably acerbic and sarcastic, but he was also brilliant and resourceful, being able to make a tremendous voyage home in what is essentially a life boat with a sail, without navigational equipment or proper rations. Christian, though usually painted as a romantic hero who was forced into mutiny, in fact did not mutineer because he was fed up with being treated harshly. He mutineered because after 23 days at sea he desperately wanted to get back to paradise and the woman he loved. That is why he mutineered. He essentially consigned Bligh and his officers to a horrible death by setting them adrift in the middle of the ocean all in the name of his own selfish needs (and in fact several did die after Bligh got them back to British territory). So why is the story often told to make Bligh look evil and Christian the romantic hero? Many reasons, but perhaps the subliminal reason has to do with names. His name sounds like Blight, giving people an automatic dislike of him. Also, he was the authority figure, which people like to take shots at. Fletcher Christian was good looking and his name has Christ in it, making him appear like the hero of the drama. Another note about names, the incident is known as "Mutiny on the Bounty", which just sounds too good. The ship was originally called "Bethia" but renamed at the last minute. Do you really think a story of "The Mutiny on the Bethia" would be nearly as popular? I doubt it. Somehow the contrast of Bounty (prosperous) with Mutiny (revolt) makes a great title. This is one event in history where everything just lined up for an incredible story.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
** Mutiny on the Bounty
** Men Against the Sea
** Pitcairn's Island
...."we sat facing each other across the cloth of fresh green leaves. A pleasant breeze blew freely through the unwalled house, and the breakers on the distant reef made a murmuring undertone of sound......"
Such are the unequaled descriptive passages used to capture the very essence of the South Seas Island of Paradise known as Tahiti; and for me, the "story behind the story" was the best part of the tale. In all it's tranquil glory, this exquisitely beautiful, seemingly enchanted tropical island, long of legend and mystery, was a reader's trip to the ends of the world, carefully chartered into our imaginations by the writing team of Nordhoff and Hall; without a dry or unappealing moment throughout.
Almost everyone is familiar with the basic threads of the three-part accounting which is based upon facts. Tahiti was the ultimate destination of the ship Bounty, headed by Captain William Bligh, whose mission was to procure a quantity of breadfruit trees and bring them back to England where they were intended to become a renewable food source for slaves. Though a capable and courageous seaman, Bligh seemed to be controlled by ego and inherent power over his men that bordered on lapses into an insanity much akin to that of the Captain Queeg of the "Caine Mutiny" - a Herman Wouk tale from another era. But the power and aura lies elsewhere, surrounding it from all sides and masterfully written; a tale of the vast, wild and untamed beauty of sea and shore mingling with the tender love stories of it's people, yet muddied with the ugliness of human frailties when it seemed there should be no room for strife in such a setting.
The Trilogy is the quintessential adventure in three separate dimensions; seen from the turmoil, indicision and separation of the crew of the Mutiny on The Bounty; later as "Men Against the Sea" through the eyes of the loyalists who stayed with Captain Bligh, and suffered unbelievable hardship as they made their way across the open ocean. And finally, as a tragic, though "hardly unexpected" ending for the never-satisfied mutineers as they settled in discontent on the Island of Pitcairn - an otherwise idylic South Pacific paradise that held every creature comfort essential to man's survival. Except: that elusive element indelibly written into Human History: Harmony.
I had to read it again, and I'm glad I took the time to do so. For those looking for a splendid adventure in literature through an older book, one can not go wrong with this one. Some things will never die; and a story such as this, combined in a trilogy binding, written by a talent such as these authors possessed, will never disappoint a reader in a return to experience again what has passed before.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2000
I give my highest praise to these books. They are far better than current "adventure" stories because of the struggles they had to endure. I found all three books in the trilogy to be excellent (Mutiny on the Bounty, Men Against the Sea, and Pitcairns Island). My favorite one was Pitcairns Island. In all the books I have ever read, this is the first book that ever actually sent a chill up my spine. I won't give the story away, but you will not believe what happens in that book. It's absolutely thrilling and fascinating!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2006
To all those actively seeking hardy adventure from the comfort of a chair:
Look no farther, your search has come to an end. This is it. This is 100% total immersion into a world of adventure. So this thing comes in three equally consuming parts. I mean who writes an entire book about sixteen guys stuck on a small wooden paddle boat out in the middle of the pacific, and makes it a treat to read? Hardy adventure seeker I have your fix, and it's not a quick fix, it's a time consuming gem that will have you in its grips until the last page is eaten up. I have to admit that I can't think of an adventure novel(trilogy) that I've enjoyed this much. Quality entertainment. Quality.