"Captain Bligh" is a cliche of our times for the extravagant and violent misuse of power. In fact, William Bligh was one of the least physically violent disciplinarians in the British navy. That paradox inspires the author to ask why, then, did Bligh have a mutiny? Its answer is to display the theatricality of naval institutions and the mythologizing power of history. Mr Bligh's Bad Language is an anthropological and historical study of the mutiny on the Bounty, and its role in society and culture. Throughout the book, Greg Dening draws on a wide range of intellectual influences, ending with the cinematic versions of the mutiny in the twentieth century.
'The author brilliantly proves his thesis. He sets the Bounty not only in it's natural environment, the sea and already well researched, but he adds it's place in the social world as it was at the time in England and Tahiti ... This is a book of scholarship which I most strongly recommend to those interested in human relationships and the effect of the environment on these very fragile flowers.' Rear Admiral Peter Dingeman, Nautical Books Review 'Greg Dening treats his subject with scholarly thoroughness, presenting the data of the mutiny on the 'Bounty' against a clearly etched background of contemporary maritime conditions, the harsh realities of life at sea and the extensive mythology that the event has engendered, not least in the romantic films that have distorted the truth in favour of dramatic impression.' The Keswick Reminder 'He uses the career of Captain Bligh to brilliant effect as a parable about power, symbol-making, the working of history ... This is a densely written work, scrupulous in its scholarship, absorbing in its detail and narrative scope.' Daily Telegraph ' ... a powerful new account of an event that has, over two centuries, helped to define our modern understandings of tyranny and resistance ... imaginative and learned, engaging and entertaining, much to be enjoyed by anyone interested in society and culture of wooden ships and iron men.' Marcus Rediker, Georgetown University ' ... succeeds in providing new insight ... Dening picks at the bare bones of the Fletcher Christian versus William Bligh story to reconstruct a breathing body.' New Statesman and Society