Lost Paradise by Kathy Marks

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: These people make the Tiger King look downright classy.

Quick synopsis: A short history of the people of Pitcairn Island with a specific focus on the sexual assault trials of 2004. It is all really gross.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: The people of Pitcairn Island are the descendants of the mutineers from the Bounty. If you are unfamiliar with the mutiny on the Bounty then honestly, come on. Fine, I’ll give you the rundown in the “My Take” section but damnit you need to read more.

Fun Fact for History Nerds: The hardest part of a trial is usually what the lawyers have to do to prepare. When it’s on Pitcairn Island then it’s a whole different set of challenges. Law and order basically didn’t exist. The United Kingdom had no court system to oversee a trial on Pitcairn because they left the island to its own devices. They didn’t even have a reliable way to GET ON the island.

My Take: Welcome to one of the craziest places on earth. In 1789, mutineers led by Fletcher Christian on a British ship named the Bounty sent their captain, William Bligh, on a small boat with the rest of the crew out into the ocean to fend for themselves. Two absolutely insane things then happened. Bligh captained his open boat and the survivors 4,000 damn miles to safety. Let that sink in. Yes, pun intended.

The second crazy thing? Christian and 8 other mutineers (after a bunch of kidnapping and murder, long story) ended up settling on Pitcairn Island with a bunch of kidnapped indigenous people. Good news though, almost all of the mutineers ended up killing each other so all is well that ends well, right? I will not point out the irony of the main psycho being named Christian. Oh, I guess I did.

Nope. Lost Paradise focuses on what happens when a society is left to its own devices with no oversight. Might be hard to be a libertarian after reading this. The people on Pitcairn currently come from four families dating back to the mutineers. In 2004, a trial was held due to the repeated sexual assaults on the island which were treated for years with a collective shrug. It wasn’t until the British government decided to actually do something that trials were held. Don’t hold out for a happy ending.

Verdict: It’s unbelievable and infuriating but a great read.

If You Liked This Try:

  • Caroline Alexander, The Bounty
  • Simon Baatz, The Girl in the Velvet Swing
  • Diana Preston, Paradise in Chains
  • Gregg Olsen, Starvation Heights
  • J. Robinson, Mystery on the Isle of Shoals
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Lost Paradise by Kathy Marks
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