Lost Paradise

Lost Paradise

From Mutiny on the Bounty to A Modern-day Legacy of Sexual Mayhem, the Dark Secrets of Pitcairn Island Revealed

Book - 2009
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Pitcairn Island -- remote and wild in the South Pacific, a place of towering cliffs and lashing surf -- is home to descendants of Fletcher Christian and theMutiny on the Bountycrew, who fled there with a group of Tahitian maidens after deposing their captain, William Bligh, and seizing his ship in 1789.Shrouded in myth, the island was idealized by outsiders, who considered it a tropical Shangri-La. But as the world was to discover two centuries after the mutiny, it was also a place of sinister secrets. In this riveting account, Kathy Marks tells the disturbing saga and asks profound questions about human behavior.In 2000, police descended on the British territory -- a lump of volcanic rock hundreds of miles from the nearest inhabited land -- to investigate an allegation of rape of a fifteen-year-old girl. They found themselves speaking to dozens of women and uncovering a trail of child abuse dating back at least three generations.Scarcely a Pitcairn man was untainted by the allegations, it seemed, and barely a girl growing up on the island, home to just forty-seven people, had escaped. Yet most islanders, including the victims' mothers, feigned ignorance or claimed it was South Pacific "culture" -- the Pitcairn "way of life."The ensuing trials would tear the close-knit, interrelated community apart, for every family contained an offender or a victim -- often both. The very future of the island, dependent on its men and their prowess in the longboats, appeared at risk. The islanders were resentful toward British authorities, whom they regarded as colonialists, and the newly arrived newspeople, who asked nettlesome questions and whose daily dispatches were closely scrutinized on the Internet.The court case commanded worldwide attention. And as a succession of men passed through Pitcairn's makeshift courtroom, disturbing questions surfaced. How had the abuse remained hidden so long? Was it inevitable in such a place? Was Pitcairn a real-lifeLord of the Flies?One of only six journalists to cover the trials, Marks lived on Pitcairn for six weeks, with the accused men as her neighbors. She depicts, vividly, the attractions and everyday difficulties of living on a remote tropical island. Moreover, outside court, she had daily encounters with the islanders, not all of them civil, and observed firsthand how the tiny, claustrophobic community ticked: the gossip, the feuding, the claustrophobic intimacy -- and the power dynamics that had allowed the abuse to flourish.Marks followed the legal and human saga through to its recent conclusion. She uncovers a society gone badly astray, leaving lives shattered and codes broken: a paradise truly lost.
Publisher: New York ; Toronto : Free Press, 2009.
Edition: First Free Press hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781416597445
Branch Call Number: 996.18 Mar
Characteristics: xxiii, 326 pages : illustrations


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Nov 24, 2014

wow, disheartening book. it really made me wonder about the nature of man. maybe we really are just beasts at heart, and the second we can get away with acting in our own and only our own best interests, we will.
without empathy, we are truly cruel and selfish creatures

Dec 31, 2013

Fascinating, no-holds-barred look at a society left to develop its own moral code outside the boundaries of "civilized" society. Kathy Marks' reporting is fearless and even-handed. The acceptance by the island's adult women on the behviour of their men is something to behold.

Aug 11, 2012

One of the best books I've read by far. Having previously worked with victims of sexual abuse and having followed this case throughout the years, it's just amazing how many people still see things through Pitcairn-tinted glasses - including those who have never even been to the island! Despite the terrible things that happened to these girls, Kathy Marks really captures hope and the human spirit in this book. A sad but inspiring read.

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