Works of fiction, among them the Charles Laughton film, Mutiny on the Bounty, paint William Bligh as an ogre. Most paint Fletcher Christian, leader of the 1789 mutiny, as an honorable junior officer whose rebellion was justified. What's the real story?
In a personal but objective narrative based on the Bounty's log, Bligh himself tells of the stormy voyage to Tahiti, his crew's insatiable attachment to the island paradise, and the incredible 3,600-mile journey to safety after the mutineers cast him, and 18 loyal crew members, adrift in a small, open boat with few supplies. Bligh's detractors say this narrative has many distortions and omissions; others judge it a remarkably dispassionate record. You can decide.
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- William J. Sandford