Chasing the Bounty –
The Voyages of the Pandora and Matavy
Edited by Donald A. Maxton
"Chasing the Bounty presents, in overlapping chronological order, eyewitness accounts from five men who endured the voyages of H.M.S. Pandora – commissioned to hunt and capture the Bounty mutineers – and Matavy, a schooner built by the mutineers on Tahiti. Their unique points of view offer an engaging reading experience.

"Chasing the Bounty features the first book publication of a narrative by Midshipman David Thomas Renouard of H.M.S. Pandora, who vividly describes a desperate struggle to survive on the Matavy with meager provisions among islands filled with hostile natives. A long, previously unpublished poem by an anonymous sailor on Pandora recounts the ship’s sinking, the survivors’ tortuous journey to the Dutch East Indies, and their return to England. Captain Edwards’ official reports to the Admiralty have been corrected from an older, inaccurate version, and his complete, unedited statement on the loss of Pandora appears for the first time in book form."

This book is really several books combined into one fascinating volume. Donald Maxton writes that his intention is to present the voyages of HMS Pandora and Matavy through texts that are faithful to the originals by Edward Edwards (Captain, HMS Pandora), George Hamilton (Surgeon, HMS Pandora), Peter Heywood (Midshipman, HMAV Bounty, prisoner), James Morrison (Boatswain’s Mate, HMAV Bounty, prisoner), David Thomas Renouard (Midshipman, HMS Pandora and Matavy), and one anonymous poet. He hopes, by making few changes or corrections in spelling from the original documents, that readers will encounter the distinct "voices" of the protagonists and draw readers closer to their extraordinary experiences.

My first thought when seeing that Donald Maxton had edited this book was of Captain Edward Edwards. I knew very little about him other than that I thought of him as a cruel, evil man. Right from the introduction to this new book, my eyes began to open.

"To his credit, Edwards provided the prisoners full rations instead of the two-thirds allowance dictated by the Royal Navy. The Pandora crew respected and admired him, perhaps because he ordered far less punishment during the voyage than most commanders” writes Maxton. “When the shipwreck survivors reached Batavia, one of them even commemorated their open boat voyage and survival by composing a long poem praising Edwards."

Donald Maxton goes on to say that, "we are fortunate that these five eyewitness accounts have survived the passage of nearly 250 years. All of them should be considered to attain a balanced view of a voyage that not only fell short of achieving its mission but also brought about great suffering and loss of life. Ironically, much of this might have been avoided if Edwards had taken a slightly different route on the voyage from England to Tahiti: 'On March 16, Captain Edwards discovered Ducie Island and, had he continued on the same parallel, he would have seen Pitcairn and probably captured Christian and his men.' (Sven Wahlroos, Mutiny and Romance in the South Seas.)"

I always have a good first impression of a book, such as this one, if it has an excellent index, and that is certainly the case here. There is also a large Bibliography and a five page Glossary where a great many nautical terms are well explained.

It is an expensive paperback, but it does have 200 packed pages, and will be an invaluable addition to the library of many researchers. The Kindle digital edition has the advantage that it can be searched with your computer, as well as the fact that it comes in at a more affordable price.

David Ransom

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Available as an Amazon Kindle eBook or traditional paperback.

Chasing the Bounty The Voyages of the Pandora and Matavy
Edited by Donald A. Maxton
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, North Carolina, USA
ISBN 978-1476 679389
Paperback £46.95 (Amazon)
Kindle eBook £19.21