Review: Mutiny on the Bounty

Mutiny_HMS_BountyMy History with this Title

About ten years ago my wife and I visited the botanical gardens in Honolulu with my Dad. He had been to Oahu several times, but never to the botanical gardens. And as I recall he wasn’t eager to go. But once there we couldn’t keep up with him (he was early 70ish and we were mid 20ish). And when he learned they had a breadfruit tree I swear we almost lost him.

We had no idea what a breadfruit tree was or why he would be so excited about it, or why he was rattling on about someone named Captain Bligh. Turns out it was all in Mutiny On The Bounty a book he read as a kid:.

The Story

The mutineers and those held against their will (mostly the latter) on the HMS Bounty after acquiring breadfruit trees in Tahiti.

It is based on an actual mutiny on the actual ship named the Bounty. In fact, very little of the novel deviates from historical account (at least the history according to wikipedia). The main difference is that it is narrated by a fictional character, who is still largely based on an actual crew member.

Finally Getting to Reading the Book

Not too long after that trip I told myself I’d read the book. And ten plus years later I finally did. I enjoyed the second half of the book is much better than the first two thirds. That might not make sense, but I don’t care. For a book that is set in our world, it has a lot of world building, which was necessary because it was written at a time when the world was nowhere near as small as it is today. (Thank you Internet).

My enjoyment of this book was different from Herman Melville’s Typee, which had a similar theme and was also based on a true story (semi-autobiographical). Instead of Mutiny, Typee deals with desertion of a whaling vessel. Both books involve the main character living among the indigenous tribes.

Typee has one of the greatest first chapter’s I’ve ever read and a spectacular end, but sandwiched in the middle is a very dry exposition about the Typee tribe which is independent of the plot.

On the other hand the drama for the Mutiny on the Bounty was really enhanced during the portion of the story where the characters were relying upon the Tahitians.

Other things worth publishing on the Internet

I don’t know what the rational is or when it started becoming so prevelant, but I can’t stand when publishers print a summary on the back cover that takes you all the way into the third act, or the last 100 pages. I can’t stand this, and won’t read the back of any novel until I think it’s safe. Turns out I wasn’t far enough into the story and parts were spoiled for me.

Although, I began to enjoy the story more after I read the Wikipedia account of the historical events. This included some spoilers, but it wasn’t to the same degree as the summary in the inside cover.

The authors Charles Nordoff and James Hall went on to publish two more stories connected to the Mutiny. At this point I don’t have plans to read the other two novels.


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