Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

PARADISE IN CHAINS: The Bounty Mutiny and the Founding of Australia

  • Written by  Olivia Edward
  • Published in Books
PARADISE IN CHAINS: The Bounty Mutiny and the Founding of Australia
11 Apr
by Diana Preston • Bloomsbury • £25 (hardback)

When the Tahitians first encountered Europeans in the 18th century, there was mutual incomprehension. Seeing the sailors squinting down the barrel of their muskets, the Tahitians understood them to be blowing down their weapons and called them pupuhi roa – ‘breath which kills at a distance’. And red being the colour of their war god Oro, who enforced his power with thunder and lightening, they understandably perceived the red-clad marines and their explosive weapons to be Oro’s underlings sent to reinstate respect.

In turn, the ships’ crews mistook the ritual dancing of the Tahitian’s young women – in which they revealed their genitals – to be displays of seduction and wantonness. In fact, the Tahitians believed exposing themselves at the invaders’ ship would open a portal through which they could channel their ancestral gods against the destructive visitors.

The exploration of the Pacific was economically motivated – after the American colonies declared independence, the British government needed to find new trading partners and new lands to which they could transport criminals – but the encounter of societies so different from each other also had a profound and lasting cultural effect on both parties. Captain Bligh sailed into this uneasy meeting of worlds on a mission to secure breadfruit for slave plantations but after his crew mutinied he famously ended up being dumped overboard along with the precious plants.

Women play bit parts in most of these stories, so the tale of the young Cornish highway-woman Mary Broad and her daring escape from Australia stands out as all the more extraordinary. Although the writing might lack the narrative thrust of other recent faction works, the historical research is extensive and dazzling, and the delights lie in the touching and revealing details that vividly conjure up this Enlightenment era when so much was being called into question.

Click here to purchase Paradise in Chains: The Bounty Mutiny and the Founding of Australia from Amazon

red line


Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our free weekly newsletter!

red line

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.


Subscribe to Geographical!

Adventure Canada


Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Winchester




Travel the Unknown


Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    The Air That We Breathe
    Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality as scandals surrounding diesel car emissions come to light and the huge health costs of po...
    Diabetes: The World at Risk
    Diabetes is often thought of as a ‘western’ problem, one linked to the developed world’s overindulgence in fatty foods and chronic lack of physi...
    When the wind blows
    With 1,200 wind turbines due to be built in the UK this year, Mark Rowe explores the continuing controversy surrounding wind power and discusses the e...
    The Nuclear Power Struggle
    The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn on government policy from just two years ago. Yet this seems to be going against the grain globa...


NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...


by Joe Shute • Bloomsbury • £16.99 (hardback)


by Beau Riffenburgh • Andre Deutsch • £25 (hardback)


by Diana Preston • Bloomsbury • £25 (hardback)


by Michael Benanav • Pegasus Books • £21.99 (hardback)


by Tony Juniper • Profile Books • £16.99/£12.99 (hardback/ebook)


by Roland Jackson • Oxford University Press • £25 (hardback)


by Kristy Leissle • Polity Press • £14.99 (paperback)


by Christopher Somerville  •  Black Swan Publishing  •  £9.99 (paperback)


by Doug Scott  •  Vertebrate Publishing  •  £20 (hardback)


by Ursula Martin  •  Honno Press  •  £12.99 (paperback)


by Navid Kermani  •  Polity Books  •  £17.99 (paperback)


by Julian Sayarer • Arcadia Books • £9.99 (hardback)


by Robin Hanbury-Tenison • IB Tauris • £17.99 (hardback)


by Daniel Schwartz •  Thames & Hudson •  £40 (hardback)


by Nigel Hughes • £25 (hardback)


by Caitlin Doughty • Weidenfeld & Nicolson • £14.99/£7.99 (hardback/eBook)


directed by Ivo Van Hove •  National Theatre


by Norman Davies • Allen Lane • £30 (hardback)


This intimate east London exhibition provides a multi-sensory exploration into…