Lost Paradise: From Mutiny on the Bounty to a Modern-Day Legacy of Sexual Mayhem, the Dark Secrets of Pitcairn Island Revealed

Kathy Marks, Author . Free Press $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4165-9744-5

Pitcairn Island was first settled more than 200 years ago by Fletcher Christian and other mutinous crew members of the HMS Bounty , along with several Polynesian women from neighboring islands; the community has always been small, but a mythology has built up around it as a remote, idyllic paradise. “Pitcairn is thoroughly civilized,” agrees Marks, a British journalist based in Australia, “except in one respect... children were almost routinely raped and assaulted.” In 2004, Marks was one of just six journalists allowed on Pitcairn to cover the trials of several islanders accused of repeated sexual abuse of teenage and preadolescent girls; her eyewitness accounts of the proceedings, and the hostility of Pitcairners, still subject to British laws, who believed their entire society was under persecution by the outside world, is gripping. She systematically demolishes the argument that Pitcairn was a different culture, where “underage sex was the norm,” and considers why outside observers—from the British government to local schoolteachers and priests—let the abuse continue unchecked for decades. The crimes are disturbing enough, but the Pitcairn community’s rallying around its most brutal sexual predators, and their relatively light punishment, is a truly unsettling story, even in Marks’s restrained retelling. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/15/2008
Release date: 02/01/2009
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-4165-9747-6
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4165-9784-1
Paperback - 1 pages - 978-0-7322-8254-7
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