Perhaps even more than the waves and weather, sea officers of the past feared the ever-present risk of mutiny. Functioning as a microcosm of dissent in our society at large, the steep hierarchy and deep social divisions between the crew and their commanders, the misery and monotony of very hard work and little sleep, and the constant threat of death from shipwreck, disease, or the enemy often led to an anarchic breakdown of any semblance of stability or order at sea.
The notorious mutiny on the Bounty in 1787 has been elevated to iconic status by Hollywood, yet Richard Woodman describes it here as a mere "pup" among mutinies. Despite the usual portrayal, Captain Bligh was neither tyrant nor sadist--whereas Pigot of the Hermione was both, and his crew was probably justified in throwing him overboard. Woodman brings a seaman's perspective to this compelling history, which stretches from Magellan's successful handling of an uprising that took place on his great voyage of discovery in 1519, to the "sordid crimes" that mutinies had become by the end of the Second World War.
Author: Richard Woodman
Title: A Brief History of Mutiny: Furious, Savage and Bloody - 400 Years of Rebellion
First Published by: Robinson Publishing
Date: April 2005