The Wager.

By David Grann

Printed: 2023

Publisher: Simon & Schuster. London

Edition: First edition

Dimensions 16 × 24 × 3 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 16 x 24 x 3

Condition: As new  (See explanation of ratings)

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Item information


In the original dustsheet. Tan cloth binding with black title.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

‘The beauty of The Wager unfurls like a great sail… one of the finest nonfiction books I’ve ever read’ Guardian

‘The greatest sea story ever told’ Spectator

‘A cracking yarn… Grann’s taste for desperate predicaments finds its fullest expression here’ Observer


From the international bestselling author of KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON and THE LOST CITY OF Z, a mesmerising story of shipwreck, mutiny and murder, culminating in a court martial that reveals a shocking truth.

On 28th January 1742, a ramshackle vessel of patched-together wood and cloth washed up on the coast of Brazil. Inside were thirty emaciated men, barely alive, and they had an extraordinary tale to tell. They were survivors of His Majesty’s ship the Wager, a British vessel that had left England in 1740 on a secret mission during an imperial war with Spain. While chasing a Spanish treasure-filled galleon, the Wager was wrecked on a desolate island off the coast of Patagonia. The crew, marooned for months and facing starvation, built the flimsy craft and sailed for more than a hundred days, traversing 2,500 miles of storm-wracked seas. They were greeted as heroes.

Then, six months later, another, even more decrepit, craft landed on the coast of Chile. This boat contained just three castaways and they had a very different story to tell. The thirty sailors who landed in Brazil were not heroes – they were mutineers. The first group responded with counter-charges of their own, of a tyrannical and murderous captain and his henchmen. While stranded on the island the crew had fallen into anarchy, with warring factions fighting for dominion over the barren wilderness. As accusations of treachery and murder flew, the Admiralty convened a court martial to determine who was telling the truth. The stakes were life-and-death—for whomever the court found guilty could hang.

Review: An outstanding literary feat, this nonfiction true crime title is both historically accurate and utterly gripping from the very first page to the last. It’s more than just a human interest story, it’s pages are filled with diligent research, and richly informative using description that is written in such a way the reader could think it a novel. What is truly phenomenal is that it’s not. Every word is an account of fact. Real experiences of people who lived through such despairing, traumatic, events.

I love the sea and I’m drawn to anything, be that art or mechanical devices held in museums, that teach me more about it, and I really feel I’ve learned a lot about life on it from reading this book. More so perhaps, than any other I have read.

If you wish to learn more about the history of seafaring, or how colonialism, the first war ships that were built, social class, and human behaviour can converge to create rebellion against authority and murder, this book is a must read.

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