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Check It Out: The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny, and Murder by David Grann

This is Kelsey Patterson with the Sioux City Public Library and you’re listening to Check It Out.

Today, I’m recommending David Grann’s latest, The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny, and Murder. An award-winning staff writer at The New Yorker and New York Times bestselling author of works like The Lost City of Z and Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann returns with, yet another meticulously researched and absorbing history, making it a no brainer for fans of his work.

On January 28, 1742, a ramshackle vessel of patched-together wood and cloth washed up on the coast of Brazil. Inside were 30 barely alive men, 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 years earlier on a secret mission during an imperial war with Spain. While The Wager had been chasing a Spanish treasure-filled galleon known as “the prize of all the oceans,” it had wrecked on a desolate island off the coast of Patagonia. After being marooned for months and facing starvation, the men built the flimsy craft and traversed over 2000 miles of storm ravaged seas. They were greeted as heroes.

Fast forward 6 months, and another even more decrepit craft landed on the coast of Chile. This boat contained just three castaways, and they told a very different story. They claimed those who landed in Brazil were not heroes—they were mutineers. The first group responded with countercharges of their own, of a tyrannical and murderous senior officer and his henchmen. It became clear that while stranded on the island, the crew had fallen into anarchy, with warring factions fighting for control. As accusations flew, the Admiralty convened a court martial to determine the truth.

Check out The Wager and the rest of David Grann’s catalog of compelling nonfiction from the Sioux City Public Library.

Support for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Verde Outdoor Media.

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