More than two centuries after Master's Mate Fletcher Christian led a mutiny against Lieutenant William Bligh on a small, armed transport vessel called Bounty, the true story of this enthralling adventure has become obscured by the legend. Combining vivid characterization and deft storytelling, Caroline Alexander shatters the centuries-old myths surrounding this story. She brilliantly shows how, in a desperate attempt to save one man from the gallows and another from ignominy, two powerful families came together and began to create the version of history we know today. The true story of the mutiny on the Bounty is an epic of duty and heroism, pride and power, and the assassination of a brave man's honor at the dawn of the Romantic age.
''What caused the mutiny on the Bounty?'' Alexander asks. ''The seductions of Tahiti, Bligh's harsh tongue -- perhaps. But more compellingly, a night of drinking and a proud man's pride, a low moment on one gray dawn, a momentary and fatal slip in a gentleman's code of discipline -- and then the rush of consequences to be lived out for a lifetime.'' This sounds almost like Conrad writing, and indeed it would have taken a Conrad to gives us a psychologically satisfactory Christian or Bligh. A sea mist hangs over this age-old tale. Alexander dispels it, to the reader's fascination. But when all the facts are told and the fates of the cast are duly chronicled, the sea mist settles in again, as impenetrable and yet more interesting than it has ever been. Verlyn Klinkenborg