The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder

Books on Tape. Apr. 2023. 8:30 hrs. ISBN 9780307747518. $95. HIST
In 1741, en route to attack a Spanish galleon during the War of Jenkins’ Ear, the Royal Navy warship HMS Wager encountered treacherous weather with tumultuous seas. The Wager drifted from the squadron and ran aground off the southwest Chilean coast, leaving the sailors castaway on what is now known as Wager Island. With the ship in tatters, some crewmen rebelled and formed alliances, leading to contentious confrontations. Enduring all manner of improbable survival conditions, some sailors lived and returned to England years later to cheers (or accusations), depending on whose story one believed. New Yorker staff writer Grann (Killers of the Flower Moon) crafted this well-researched project into an engaging listen for all audiences. The timeline is expertly delineated and easy to follow, with dates frequently provided. Robustly and huskily narrated by Dion Graham, who masterfully captures the intensity of this swashbuckling adventure.
VERDICT All the trimmings of an admirable shipwreck story are present, including scurvy, mutiny, controversy, and foul weather. Combined with Graham’s hardy narration, Grann’s latest is a riveting must-listen. Expect broad listener appeal and high demand for this enthralling seafaring tale.
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