Friday, June 13, 2008

Book Review: The Eventful History of the Mutiny and the Piratical Seizure of HMS Bounty by Sir John Barrow

This is probably the most complete and balanced account of the well-known true story of The Bounty. Compiled from accounts from mutineers, William Bligh and transcripts of the Courts Martial this tale is told from a number of viewpoints and as such gives the reader a clear picture of the confusion at the time and the poorly thought out seizure of the ship, as well as telling of the horrors that the seamen loyal to Bligh and those mutineers who were captured had to endure on the voyage home.

The chapters recounting the voyage of the Bounty, its time at Otaheite and the casting adrift of Bligh and his loyal followers tell a gripping tale and the privations endured by the group of sailors are incredible. The story of how a number of mutineers were captured, their ship wrecked and the consequent voyage to Kupang is equally amazing and rather less well known.

Whilst this is a good start to the book, the telling of the Courts Martial become rather bogged down in letters between one particular mutineer and his sister, which become increasingly irritating due to their lack of conciseness and long drawn out sentences. In fact it would seem that these pages are reproduced to pad out an otherwise fairly short book; their ommission would have improved the overall reading experience considerably.

Despite this intermission, the story gets back on track to tell the fascinating tale of the mutineers who reached Pitcairn Island.

This book is recommended to those who like tales of adventure and adversity and to those interested in stories of the sea. It may be of limited interest to the general reader due to its reportive style and stagnation towards the third quarter of the book.

Score: 6.5/10

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