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The Bounty Mutiny (Penguin Classics) Reprint Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140439168
ISBN-10: 0140439161
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Editorial Reviews


"Highly recommended . . . Anyone interested in the Bounty mutiny should own this book."

About the Author

William Bligh (1754-1817) was a British naval officer and colonial governor who is best remembered for the mutiny on the H.M.S. Bounty.

Christian was the elder brother of Fletcher Christian, the leader of the mutiny.

Madison is professor of English at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (May 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140439161
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140439168
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #708,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By F. Orion Pozo on March 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is a collection of early documents relating to Fletcher Christian's mutiny against William Bligh in 1789 on the HMS Bounty. The editor claims to have gathered together for the first time "the relevant texts and documents" related to this famous event that has intrigued readers for 200 years. In all, ten documents whose publication dates range from 1790 to 1870 are included. The first four documents make up the body of the book and consist of a series of published statements by William Blight and responses by Edward Christian, Fletcher's brother. Fletcher Christian died on Pitcairn Island and never put his story in print. These four sections are followed by six Appendixes. The first Appendix contains a transcript of Bligh's orders and a botanical description of the breadfruit that the Bounty went to Tahiti to obtain. The remaining five Appendixes are narratives of the lives of those who stayed on the Bounty after the mutiny.
All of these early texts are preceded by a delightful and informative Introduction by the editor that relates the early lives of both Bligh and Christian and discusses their relationship leading up to the mutiny. It describes the mission of the Pandora to seek out the Bounty and bring back any mutineers they can find. Also covered is the trial and disposition of those sailors brought back from Tahiti. Lastly, the Introduction goes on to summarize the history of Bounty documentation and scholarship, from Bligh's first published account right on through the famous fictionalized Bounty trilogy by Nordhoff and Hall. The Introduction is followed by a one page listing of suggested further readings.
The first section of the book is Bligh's 1790 account of the mutiny and subsequent voyage of he and 18 crew members in the ship's 23 foot boat.
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Format: Paperback
What an amazing book. Using the original source materials--Bligh's diary, the transcript of the Bounty Court Martial, Fletcher Christian's brother's defense of the mutineers, and other materials--the Editor R.D. Madison has put together a book which is impossible to put down. Indeed, the book leaves the reader wishing it were twice as long. Madison refuses to take sides in the Bligh v. Christian debate, and lets the record speak for itself. Since the record is contradictory and nobody is unbiased, the effect, in cinematic terms, is more like "Roshomon" than either of the two Bounty movies. William Bligh comes across as an incredibly brave man with an indomitable will--yet he has a tendency to whine, and worse, he stoops to securing affidavits which do not even pass the smell test. Fletcher Christian comes across as a 23-year old hothead who lets the men talk him into leading a mutiny--and can't control the situation after the mutiny. Christian petulantly refuses to have dinner with the Captain on the eve of the mutiny. Clark Gable, he clearly ain't. The moral world of the Bounty is painted entirely in shades of gray; the men of the Bounty are imperfect and all too human.
Not only is the reader treated to a great detective story, but it is a story with an absorbing and instructive sequel. The book ends with a contemporary account, first published in the 1830's, of the subsequent history of Pitcairn's Island as told by the last survivor of the Bounty, "John Adams" (an alias). Adams described a harrowing descent into mayhem and murder by the mutineers who made it to Pitcairn's Island along with their native friends. The disputes began with a dispute over--you guessed it--who would possess a native woman.
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Format: Paperback
This is my first review. I feel that some of the 'rave reviews' I read for this volume did not adequately describe several flaws that I feel need mentioning.

I bought this book because I wanted to read the contemporary accounts of the Bounty mutiny to gain an understand of both sides of the issues involved, and to make a personal decision on what happened and why. This edition was touted as allowing me to do just that. However I found that the editor, in his introduction, tries to do some of my thinking for me. I feel that, in a book of this sort, the editor should not be telling us his version of the story, particularly at the beginning of the book. Mr Madison may well believe that Captain Bligh was the villian in this tragedy with Mr Christian the poor sensitive victim, but I wish he would keep it to himself and limit himself to background and supplemental material.

Another disappointment is that apparently, the chapter titled "Minutes of the Proceedings of the Court-Martial held at Portsmouth, August 12, 1792." is not the real minutes at all, but a partial transcript provided by Edward Christian (Fletcher's brother). I'm not sure I understand why the actual court transcript was not available and what is missing in the version we have. I do know we have to rely on a version published by the 'defendant's" brother. Is that really conducive to getting an objective picture?

That said, the book is still interesting and does give the reader a fairly comprehensive picture of the events of that spring morning in 1789.
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