The Wager Disaster
Mayhem, Mutiny and Murder in the South Seas
Distributed for Unicorn Press Ltd
Britain and Spain were at war, and the Wager was part of a small British squadron sent to extend the battle to their Spanish possessions in the South Seas. Unfortunately, there were no accurate charts of the west coast of South America, and much of the navigation was determined by guesswork. Vicious hurricane-force winds wrecked the Wager, separating it from the squadron. Starvation, exhaustion, hypothermia, and drowning quickly claimed most of the soldiers who survived the wreck. The rest rose up against the unpopular captain and set off in an open boat with no chart, resulting in one of the greatest survival voyages as the castaways made their way 2,500 nautical miles back to Britain.
Drawing on the firsthand accounts of the survivors, The "Wager" Disaster tells the compelling story of a dramatic fight for survival under extreme conditions.
Above all, these narratives present us with a cast of extraordinary, vivid human characters. Some are struggling with their consciences; some are obsessed with hatred and fear. There are steady and resourceful men who nevertheless let the weak die in order to save the strong; there are traitors determined to reach safety so that they can denounce their own shipmates. And – most fortunately for us – there are a few marvelous young men who never stopped observing the places and peoples they encountered and somehow – in the face of ghastly extremities – recording them with wonder and in detail. Almost forgotten for more than a century, the ‘Wager’ story in all its fearsome complexity and tragic horror is now returned to us in lasting and well-illustrated form."