Forget all the Hollywood summer blockbusters because The Wager is the most exciting, intense story of the summer! Until Barbie I presume 😉 And I have to admit while it sounded interesting I didn’t expect a true history to grip me so hard right now.
But I could not put it down. And honestly I’d mutiny too if I was in their position!
The Wager starts out as part of a fleet of ships that sets out to find and capture a Spanish galleon. The journey is rife with illness and storms before they even get far into it. It goes well for basically no one and that’s even before The Wagers epic shipwreck.
The ship is assumed lost and then one day nearly 3000 miles from where they wrecked a makeshift lifeboat washes up on shore with survivors. A couple months later even more survivors appear on another shore.
Only those survivors, which includes The Wager’s Captain, say the first bunch aren’t heroes but mutineers and deserters. Which is where my modern hat came in like, “So? Under the circumstances they were living as castaways (including the Captain literally murdering someone without any kind of trial) I’d be like mutineering my ass too. Sign me up for whoever builds the first ship.”
Especially since a lot of the poor guys who suffered the most were basically kidnapped off the streets and thrown on the boats in the first place.
But back in the day the lovely British Navy would hang mutineers regardless of what they had survived.
So, even once the poor survivors got back, it was a quest to put their story out first and see who was believed. I think that’s what makes the story feel so strong and keeps it flowing (besides Grann’s writing, of course). So many of the sailors kept logs, and there were first-person accounts published right after the events to pull from, so you feel right in the thick of it.
I mean, I read this in 3 days, and for me, these days, that’s the mark of a winner.