Paradise in Chains: The Bounty Mutiny and the Founding of Australia

Written by Diana Preston
Review by Janice Derr

Paradise in Chains weaves together the real-life adventure stories of the mutiny of the Bounty, the founding of Australia as a British penal colony, and the high seas escape of convict Mary Bryant. In 1787 Lieutenant William Bligh sailed to explore Tahiti and collect breadfruit plants to send to the West Indies. Two years into their journey, Bligh’s crew grew tired of his strict rules and harsh punishments and staged a mutiny. Bligh and the few crew members who remained loyal to him were cast out to sea for 48 harrowing days.

Four years after Bligh set sail, Bryant, her husband, their two children, and seven convicts set off on a journey of their own. The group was among the first colonists to settle Australia. Colony life was abysmal with the lack of food, endless hard labor, constant disease, and threats of attack from the continent’s original inhabitants. Bryant and her companions risked their lives to flee, traveling more than 3000 miles through rough ocean waters.

Preston’s exploration of the relationships between native Tahitians and explorers and the Aboriginal people and colonists is fascinating. Well-researched and full of personal accounts, this is a must-read for lovers of history and adventure.