Hell and Paradise

by Peter Clarke. Viking, $25.00. Mr. Clarke lives on Norfolk Island, a former British penal colony to which the descendants of the Bounty mutineers were removed when Pitcairn Island became inadequate to support them all. His book combines a history of the old penal colony, which was beastly even by the standards of its kind, a history of the people of Pitcairn, an account of the family background of Fletcher Christian and speculations on what actually became of the mutiny’s leader, and a discussion of the political status of Norfolk, which is currently engaged in a dispute with Canberra over whether the place is or is not the property of Australia. The text rambles pleasantly around all these topics, while the illustrations are plentiful if not always enlightening.