The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder

Doubleday. Apr. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9780385534260. $30. CRIME
In 1740, the British vessel Wager was one of a five-ship fleet on a secret mission to capture a Spanish treasure-filled galleon; the venture was intended to fund England’s war with Spain. The trip involved navigating around Cape Horn to get to the Pacific Ocean. National Book Award finalist Grann (Killers of the Flower Moon) explains that the Wager wrecked on a desolate island off the coast of Patagonia, where the captain and some of his crew had a falling out that resulted in a mutiny. The mutineers abandoned the captain and other crew members and sailed to Brazil, where they were considered heroes after crossing nearly 3,000 miles of stormy seas. But the marooned captain and two of his officers also survived, made it to Chile, and informed everyone of the mutiny. A court martial was convened, but the outcome was not what everyone expected. Part of Grann’s thorough research includes original ship logs and other intriguing documents; 35 pages of this book are devoted to footnotes.
VERDICT An engaging read that’s filled with meticulous descriptions about how and why the wreck and mutiny unfolded. Readers who have a strong interest in high crimes on the sea and military history will want to dive in.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing