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  • The Wager

  • By: David Grann
  • Narrated by: Dion Graham
  • Length: 8 hrs and 28 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (334 ratings)

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The Wager cover art

The Wager

By: David Grann
Narrated by: Dion Graham
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Summary

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES NO. 1 BESTSELLER 
​*LONGLISTED FOR THE 2023 BALLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION*

*SELECTED AS ONE OF  BARACK OBAMA'S FAVOURITE BOOKS OF 2023*

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.

©2023 David Grann (P)2023 Penguin Random House Audio US
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic reviews

'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

‘Combining impeccable research with exceptional storytelling powers, [Grann] spirits the reader aboard a creaking wooden ship trapped at the eye of a howling storm… No book that you are likely to read this year or next will prove more dramatic and enthralling than Grann’s magnificent story of both life at sea and out on the desolate, mist-laden island whose solitary peak the Wager’s unfortunate crew aptly named Mount Misery’ Miranda Seymour, Financial Times

What listeners say about The Wager

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Awful

Why choose an American narrator for such a British subject? Had to return it. Couldn’t get on with it. Really jarring.

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34 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

If you're British, tread very carefully.

This is a great book with shockingly poor American narration, even though it's about a British ship, If you are happy with LOOtenants, everyone having a lazy drawl, an American lecturing you about British class structure and long unusual pauses, go for it. I had to return it, found it unbearable to listen to, even though obviously it's well-written and very interesting. And in fact the narrator is probably a great actor with American material too, but this is a completely terrible match and I'm amazed they let it happen.

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32 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Good story but wrong narrator

As stated elsewhere this needed an English narrator. It is an English naval story in the context of a European battle for power, a battle that had been fought for centuries already. The attempts to bring in current politically correct views jar and will date the book very quickly.

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28 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

An abridged version of an amazing story

Having written (95%) of the Wikipedia page on the Wager Mutiny I have extensively read and researched this topic. This narrative is good and has some interesting perspectives, but it misses out a good 50% of what happened and is, to me, important. I consider this to be an abridged narrative. If you’re interested in this story, refer to the bibliography which is in the Wikipedia article. Patrick O’Brian’s fictionalised version ‘The Unknown Shore’ is also a must.

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21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Why this Narrator?

Enjoyable, but the narrator was awful. Spoiled the book overall. He isn't a bad narrator per se, but a very poor fit for this book. Very overly dramatic performance, and it's just jarring to hear an American accent telling what is clearly a very British story. I would urge the publishers to choose someone who has experience of narrating this type of sea story in future.

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20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good story - shame about narrator

Ruined by the narrator. Demo does not capture how he makes the listen to much about his voice(s) and not the story.

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13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

“Worse things happen at sea”.

This gripping story was ill served by the choice of an American voice narrating it. It is the story of English sailors facing unimaginable scenarios, and an English voice would have been the perfect choice.
I could hardly stop listening, however, and found it pretty overwhelming.

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8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Cool wiki article played out in Shakespearean narration

Let's not do this type of overemotional narration on a nonfiction book... which could become a great wiki article.

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5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Dont bother unless you're a land-lubber

A Royal Naval history tale written by an American biased journalist , with a poor Ametican narrator . If you are a land lubber and know nothing of ships in this period you might like it . But so much description in American terms , not needed , repartition . Disparaging of the Royal Navy of the period . I was surprised in the end acknowledgement who had helped , I thought he knew better , or his advice not heeded .
I bought this on the advertising hype , wish I hadn't . And will be deleating from my Kindle pernanently .

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4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story hampered by odd narration

I have no issue with the narrator being American rather than English; the author is American and it makes no difference to the quality of the telling - but the performance is rather odd putting in this case. He over emphasizes and moulds the narration as if in a radio drama rather than standing back and let the excellent writing tell the story. it's not a deal breaker but it did have me frequently wondering why he was performing in such a way. the overall story and writing are excellent though so worth a listen for that alone, and others may be less irked than I was by the style of reading!

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4 people found this helpful