Mutiny on the Globe: The Fatal Voyage of Samuel Comstock

Mutiny on the Globe: The Fatal Voyage of Samuel Comstock

by Thomas Farel Heffernan
     
 

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A bloody mutiny on a whaling journey, followed by an incredible tale of survival on land and sea.
Samuel Comstock knew he was born to do some great thing, but his only legacy was a reign of terror. Two years out of Nantucket on a whaling voyage in 1824, he organized a mutiny and murdered the officers of the Globe. It was a premeditated act; in his sea chest

Overview

A bloody mutiny on a whaling journey, followed by an incredible tale of survival on land and sea.
Samuel Comstock knew he was born to do some great thing, but his only legacy was a reign of terror. Two years out of Nantucket on a whaling voyage in 1824, he organized a mutiny and murdered the officers of the Globe. It was a premeditated act; in his sea chest Comstock carried the seeds, tools, and weapons with which he would found his own island kingdom. He had often described these plans to one of his brothers, William. But the chief witness and chronicler of the mutiny was young George Comstock, who neither participated in nor approved of his brother's savage deed.
Within days of settling on Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands, Comstock was murdered by his fellow mutineers. Six innocent seamen—George among them—seized the Globe and escaped; most of the rest were killed by natives. Two survivors lived for twenty-two months, half-prisoners and half-adoptees of the natives, until they were rescued in a bold and dangerous maneuver by a landing party from the U.S. schooner Dolphin.
The Globe's story is one of terror, adventure, endurance, and luck. It is also the story of one of the most bizarre and frightening minds that ever went to sea.

Editorial Reviews

Nathaniel Philbrick
“Thomas Heffernan's Mutiny on the Globe is a searching, impeccably researched account of one of the most horrifying and fascinating events in Nantucket's whaling history.—Nathaniel Philbrick, author of In the Heart of the Sea”
New Yorker
In 1704 a Scottish sailor, Alexander Selkirk, was abandoned on a remote South Sea island. Rescued more than four years later, Selkirk became a celebrity, as well as the model for Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Diana Souhami's Selkirk's Island separates truth from literature: although the ever-ingenious Crusoe uses the indigenous goats on his island for clothing and food, Selkirk's goats had been brought from Europe, were disrupting the local ecosystem, and were probably used by Selkirk for sexual release.

One of the most famous castaway cases of the following century is covered in two new books, Mutiny on the Globe, by Thomas Farel Heffernan, and Demon of the Waters , by Gregory Gibson. In 1824, an apparent psychopath, Samuel Comstock, engineered a savage mutiny on a whaling ship and headed for Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands. His intention was to establish his own Kurtz-style kingdom; after a bizarre series of killings and desertions that claimed Comstock's life, only two crew members were left, among inhabitants who were unsure whether to trust them or not. The men became expert in the native culture, adopting the local dress and compiling a list of island vocabulary that has elicited praise from scholars of the Marshallese language.

In a shrinking world, castaways are rarer. Magellania, a posthumous novel by Jules Verne translated from the French by Benjamin Ivry, tells the story of Kaw-djer, a mysterious white man who lives among the people of Magellania (at the tip of South America). But the outside world keeps intruding. Chile and Argentina jostle for possession of Magellania, jeopardizing the isolation of a voluntary castaway who does not want to be rescued. (Leo Carey)

Publishers Weekly
In yet another title about the Globe, Heffernan (Stove by a Whale) presents the violent story of Samuel Comstock, clever ruffian, cunning trouble-maker and all around hooligan, who led a bloody mutiny aboard the Nantucket whaler. After dispatching the captain and officers of the ship, Comstock's delusions of setting up a personal empire in the Marshall Islands (and conscripting the natives into his personal army) met an apex in madness, and the 21-year-old was gunned down by fellow mutineers shortly after reaching the Mili Atoll. In the ensuing power vacuum, six sailors fled to the ship, abandoning the other nine to face the irate natives; seven were killed while the remaining two were kept as "pets." Upon learning the fate of the whaler, the U.S. Navy mounted an unprecedented rescue mission and set a standard for policing the waters of the South Pacific. Historian Heffernan wonderfully revives the mutiny and its aftermath in this dynamic, tightly edited record that never shows the toil of labor. Working from a wealth of primary source materials (among others, varying accounts from Comstock's brothers, the two marooned mariners and senior Lt. Hiram Paulding, who helped lead the rescue), the author balances the narrative with well-placed insights and quips, keeping the action relentless and oftentimes terrifying. (Heffernan's description of mayhem Comstock causes in the Chilean port of Valparaiso is an unexpected diversion on a par with the violence of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
It is singular that the mutiny that took place aboard HMS Bounty won enduring fame, while the savage takeover of the Nantucket whaleship Globe remains relatively obscure. Fletcher Christian's insurrection earned an enduring place in the annals of the sea for both his ship and himself, whereas Samuel Comstock's butchery has been all but ignored. This book will help to set the record straight. Certainly the story of a Yankee sailor's rebelliousness and the subsequent events that overtook the Globe and her crew are fully as colorful as any other. In 1822, the small whaler put to sea for a hunting voyage that might last for several years. Aboard were an emotionally unstable boat-steerer, Samuel Comstock, and his rational younger brother, George. In the far reaches of the Pacific, Samuel and a few cronies murdered the ship's captain and officers with extreme cruelty, and cowed the rest of the bewildered crew. Following the Bounty scenario, the rebels sailed to a utopian atoll, stripped the ship, and terrorized the native population into submission. The scheme was haphazard, however, and many of the sailors justifiably feared for their lives. Three days after landing, Samuel Comstock was ambushed and killed. In the confusion, brother George and five others seized the despoiled vessel and contrived to sail it to safety. The island's natives soon killed all the rest of the mutineers save for two, who eventually were rescued by a passing schooner. Was the sailor Samuel Comstock a devil incarnate or just an over-romantic boy, a helplessly muddled youth or a callow adventurer with a streak of cruelty? George later penned an account of the whole sordid story that showed the complexity of thesituation and the personalities involved. Author Thomas Heffernan, an expert on the whaling era, has taken this and other accounts and put together a fast-moving popular history of the whole tragedy. YAs as well as maritime buffs will enjoy this for casual reading. KLIATT Codes: JSA;Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Penguin Putnam, 284p. illus. bibliog. notes. index., Puffer

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393041637
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
06/01/2002
Edition description:
1ST
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.60(w) x 9.60(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Farel Heffernan is the author of Stove by a Whale: Owen Chase and the Essex and former president of the Melville Society. He lives in Garden City, New York.

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