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It was one of the strangest sights the Coast Guard pilots had ever seen: a tall-masted wooden ship, the kind that sailed centuries ago, capsizing in the wind and towering waves of Hurricane Sandy off the coast of North Carolina. It looked like something out of a movie—and, in a way, it was. The ship was the Bounty, a replica of a British merchant vessel of the same name whose crew famously mutinied in 1789. She had been built for a Marlon Brando film in the 1960s—and now she was sinking, her sixteen-person crew fleeing into the sea amid the splintered wood and torn canvas.

Was the Bounty’s sinking—which left her captain missing and one of her crew members dead—an unavoidable tragedy? Or was it the fault of a captain who was willing to risk everything to save the ship he loved? Drawing on exclusive interviews with Bounty survivors and Coast Guard rescuers, journalist Matthew Shaer reconstructs the ship’s final voyage and the Coast Guard investigation into her sinking that followed, uncovering a riveting story of heroism and hubris in the eye of a hurricane.

February 2013