by Caroline Alexander
Most historical tomes read like dry rehashes of diary entries and news clips, but Alexander manages to keep things flowing at a quick and easy pace in The Bounty, her attempt to navigate the murky waters of myth about what happened aboard the fabled ship in 1789. She weaves a detailed narrative of the events of April 28, when Master’s Mate Fletcher Christian and three other crewmembers seized command of their vessel from the captain, Lt. William Bligh. According to Alexander, the truth resides in a gray area. Bligh, who was reviled in the book and film Mutiny on the Bounty, actually treated his crew better than earlier retellings would lead us to believe. (She says he was also a marvelous sailor who successfully navigated 3,600 miles to safety after Christian dumped him and 18 crewmates into a 23-ft. boat.) And Christian wasn’t the saint he became in lore. The only omission marring The Bounty’s well-rounded account is an explanation of the method behind Christian’s madness.