The Wager

The Wager

My next book was "The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny, and Murder" by David Grann. Lately, I've developed a routine of visiting Barnes & Noble while waiting for my daughter's art lesson. This book, which was named the 2023 B&N Author of the Year, kept catching my eye on the B&N's shelf, so I decided to make it my next read.

This book is not fiction but a meticulously researched account of a historical controversy. In 1741, HMS Wager, a British Royal Navy warship, was wrecked on the southern coast of Chile. Remarkably, 30 men miraculously survived and returned to England after years. However, three other men returned later and accused those 30 of being mutineers rather than heroes. Isn't that intriguing?

It truly was intriguing. I wasn't familiar with the author before, but his vivid descriptions made me feel as if I were right there in the midst of the action. His immersive storytelling style was so engaging that it was like watching a movie or TV show unfold before my eyes. I later discovered that the author is renowned for this style. Impressed by his storytelling, I added another one of his books, "Killers of the Flower Moon," to my reading list.

One interesting tidbit I picked up from the book was the origin of the phrase "under the weather." I had always used it casually, but it turns out it refers to being below the waterline or underdeck during bad weather, which is the most stable place on a ship.

When ailing seamen were shielded belowdecks from the adverse elements outside, they were said to be “under the weather.”

I don't want to give away any spoilers, so I'll refrain from discussing the specifics. However, the conclusion of the incident felt somewhat ambiguous. This might be due to the author's captivating storytelling. He delves into the irrationality of colonialism in conclusion, which seems like an effort to balance out the somewhat anticlimactic ending. Despite this, the book remains a compelling and worthwhile read.