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The Eventful History of H.M.S. Bounty

Sir John Barrow

Book Overview: 

The mutiny on the Bounty occurred aboard a British Royal Navy ship on 28 April 1789. The mutiny was led by Fletcher Christian against the commanding officer, William Bligh.

On 4 April 1789, after five months in Tahiti, the Bounty set sail with its breadfruit cargo. On 28 April 1789, some 1,300 miles west of Tahiti, near Tonga, mutiny broke out. From all accounts, Fletcher Christian and several of his followers entered Bligh's cabin, which he always left unlocked, awakened him, and pushed him on deck wearing only his nightshirt, where he was guarded by Christian holding a bayonet. When Bligh entreated with Christian to be reasonable, Christian would only reply, "I am in hell, I am in hell!"

The mutineers ordered Bligh, the ship's master, two midshipmen, the surgeon's mate, and the ship's clerk into Bounty's launch. Several more men voluntarily joined Bligh rather than remaining aboard, as they knew that those who remained on board would be considered de facto mutineers under the Articles of War. (Summary by Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Lieutenant Bligh immediately on his return to England, after one of the most distressing and perilous passages over nearly four thousand miles of the wide ocean, with eighteen persons, in an open boat. The story obtained implicit credit; and though Lieutenant Bligh's character never stood high in the navy for suavity of manners or mildness of temper, he was always considered as an excellent seaman, and his veracity stood unimpeached. But in this age of refined liberality, when the most atrocious criminals find their apologists, it is not surprising it should now be discovered, when all are dead that could either prove or disprove it, that it was the tyranny of the commander alone, and not the wickedness of the ringleader of the mutineers of the Bounty, that caused that event. 'We all know,' it is said, 'that mutiny can arise but from one of these two sources, excessive folly or excessive tyranny; therefore' —the logic is admirable&mdas. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Many accounts of the most well documented mutiny have been presented in both print and film but none can compare to The Eventful History and Piratical Seizure if H.M.S. Bounty: Its Causes and Consequences by John Barrow. This book presents a collection of written documents presented by all partic...more

An excellent early attempt to collect and synthesize all the information on the mutiny and its aftermath. Extremely partisan and sympathetic towards Peter Haywood, and you might think that is a strange statement—who isn't sympathetic towards Peter Haywood? But few books have been sympathetic towa...more

(I read a kindle edition, not the quoted annotated one).

Reading Val McDermid's Grave Tattoo made me wonder about how truthful or fictional its account of the mutiny was. (Spoiler alert: It suggests Fletcher Christian returned to England). I thought I'd look up a more factual account -...more

I listened to this book in the Livrovox library. This is far from a boring dry read. It is an engrossing detail of the back story, the actions, and the aftermath of the Mutiny on the Bounty. I highly recommend this read. If you prefer to read rather than listen, this book is also available in the...more

I listened to an audiobook of this and enjoyed it for the most part some were better readers than others. It was interesting to me the culture and civilization founded on Pitcairn island.

Several stories in one is the brilliant and fascinating Mutiny of the Bounty . One of my favourites .

This is a factual account of the mutiny and its aftermath, primarily from first sources, including letters, journal entries and the court marshal proceedings. It gives a relatively balanced account of the events, and includes footnotes to cite sources.

A fascinating read, in part because the author relies on primary and secondary sources rather than conjecture. He clearly expects his readers to contemplate all sides and decide for themselves what happened.

More information on the HMS Bounty mutiny. One of many books that try to explain this interesting event.

A fascinating story, tragic at so many levels. I learnt that there is real danger in being passive. Peter Heywood almost hanged because he did not actively protect or obstruct the mutiny.

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