Captain Bligh's Portable Nightmare
by John Toohey
ISBN 1 875989 74 9
Publication of reprint: February 2001
At dawn on 28 April 1789, William Bligh and 18 men from the Bounty were herded onto a 23-foot open boat and abandoned in the middle of the Pacific.
It was the beginning of an epic six-week voyage of over 6,000 kilometres to Timor, which involved attacks by islanders, continuous storms, crippling illnesses and near starvation.
Two of the men on the longboat kept journals, and many of the others gave detailed evidence of Bligh's behaviour at the trial of the Bounty mutineers the next year.
From this wealth of evidence, novelist John Toohey has written his first book, a non-fiction narrative about a fascinating but little-known corner of a familiar story, which involves a reassessment of the character of the angry but sometimes admirable William Bligh.
Toohey's latest book, Quiros - a novel based loosely on explorations by Spanish explorer Pedros Fernando de Quiros - is being released March 2002.
Captain Bligh's Portable Nightmare is more than just a narrative: it looks at how the British navy was organised, the mental world of those who sailed with it, and how the personal characteristics of one man could make the difference between life and death. It is also an examination of how the same qualities that can make someone a hero in one situation can make him a tyrant in another. Combining extensive research with dazzling storytelling, John Toohey tells a gripping tale of seafaring, exploration and mutiny on the high seas while also dismissing the black legend of the cruel and foul-mouthed Captain William Bligh.
It was published in Britain in 1999 to acclaim, and was well received in the US in 2000.
'All the adrenalin of mutiny, marooning and maritime misdemeanours' Independent
'History brought to life.' The Australian Review of Books
'Compelling' Sunday Times
'Toohey painstakingly pieces together the details of the maritime saga the result is a deftly reconstructed drama - an excellent beach read.' Observer