First published in 1932, Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall's novel was a huge critical and commercial success that has seen no less than two film adaptations. The 1935 version starring Charles Laughton and Clark Gable the most famous, and the 1962 adaptation starring Marlon Brando the most infamous due to cost overruns and the unpredictable antics of its star.
The novel is narrated by the fictional Roger Byam, an admirer of the famous explorer Captain James Cook. Byam is thrilled to meet a naval lieutenant named William Bligh, who once sailed with Cook, during Bligh's visit to the Byam estate for dinner with Roger and his mother.
After dinner, Bligh offers Byam the chance of a lifetime: to join ship as a midshipman aboard a Royal Navy vessel Bligh will be commanding that is scheduled to sail for Tahiti to collect breadfruit plants there and take them to be introduced into the West Indies. Byam eagerly accepts.
Then, at the behest of family friend and philanthropist Sir Joseph Banks, who is funding the expedition, Byam is also assigned to compile during the ships stay in Tahiti a dictionary of grammar spoken by the natives who live there. A task Banks knows Byam would be well-suited for.
The big days soon arrives. Byam bids his beloved mother (his only living parent) farewell, reports to Bligh's ship, and as soon as the fickle winds allow the ship to depart, sets off to see with his own eyes the lands Cook saw, to help bring a new crop into England's Caribbean colonies, and to bring back to England knowledge of the Tahitian language.
True, the food aboard ship is less than what he is used to back at home, and the quarters are somewhat cramped, but Byam soon learns to adapt to them.
There is an even bigger catch, though, one which bodes ill-well for all aboard her: the ship is none other than His Majesty's Armed Vessel Bounty.
Byam will soon experience a lot more adventure than he'd bargained for when rebellion suddenly occurs one day out of the blue on the homeward leg of the voyage, instigated by Bligh’s second-in-command, Fletcher Christian. From there Byam will embark on an odyssey of adventure and romance that will end with him barely escaping the hangman’s noose when the Royal Navy comes in search of those who dared seize one of its ships.