Caroline Alexander was born in Florida, of British parents, and has lived in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. She studied Philosophy and Theology at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar and has a doctorate in Classics from Columbia University. She is the author of the bestselling The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition which has been translated into thirteen languages. She writes frequently for The New Yorker and The National Geographic, and she is the author of four other books, including Mr Chippy's Last Expedition, the journal of the Endurance's ship's cat.
The mutiny on board HMS Bounty has become one of the most abiding of all the great sagas of the sea. Over the years, myths and legends took their place alongside the facts, creating a distorted version of history. William Bligh was often portrayed as a harsh and ruthless captain while the mutineer Fletcher Christian was romanticised into an avenging hero. Caroline Alexander takes a fresh look at this famous historical event, employing extensive research to bring new information to light. Using contemporaneous accounts, she allows the mutineers to tell their story in their own words. This is an adventure story full of colour and excitement, complete with exotic locations, death and disease, dissent and rebellion and survival against all odds. On 28 April 1789, just before sunrise, master's mate Fletcher Christian and three other armed men entered the cabin of their captain, William Bligh, tied him up and took control of the ship. Under the disturbed command of Christian, they put Bligh and other dissenters into a 23-foot craft and sent them out to sea, certain that they would perish. Against all the odds, Bligh commandeered the little ship across 4,162 miles of frequently perilous oceans to safety in the Dutch East Indies. The drama of their 45 days adrift, surviving on meagre portions of food and water and catching sea birds to eat, is vividly conveyed. Throughout the ordeal, Bligh held on tenaciously to his sanity and his navigational expertise to ensure the survival of his desperate crew. When he finally returned to England in 1790, the Admiralty mobilised an expedition to hunt down the mutineers and the story tracks the details of the fate that awaited Christian and his followers. This account of the story begins before the Bounty sailed and ends with the death of the last participant, looking at the backgrounds and personalities of the men and how these might have influenced events. The personal letters and accounts give the narrative an immediacy that recreates the atmosphere of the time. This is history at its best. (Kirkus UK)