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The Loss of the Wager: The Narratives of John Bulkeley and the Hon. John Byron (First Person Singular) Paperback – 14 Oct 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Boydell Press; New Ed edition (14 Oct 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843830965
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843830962
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,269,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

The story of the Wager, whether told by Bulkeley or Byron, is one which reveals extremes of human behaviour in adversity. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MARITIME HISTORYTwo remarkable and fascinating histories. THE REVIEW, the journal of the NHCRAThese lively accounts are full of astute comment and revealing asides on the contemporary Royal Navy, as well as remarkable touches of humour in the midst of the grimmest predicaments.Indeed, both Bulkeley and Byron have left a valuable picture of the lost tribes of coastal Chile, and Boydell and Brewer are to be commended for this first person singular series. In this volume it certainly achieves the purpose of 'telling history in the words of those who took part'. These are true eighteenth-century voices. MARINER'S MIRROR

Review

These lively accounts are full of astute comment and revealing asides on the contemporary Royal Navy, as well as remarkable touches of humour in the midst of the grimmest predicaments.[...]These are true eighteenth-century voices.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Luis Mansilla M on 11 July 2011
Format: Paperback
Although the wreck of the Wager was really a tragedy, I could not but enjoy the accounts of Bulkeley and Byron since is a good source of information about Chile in the 1740s. The life of these people was miserable, almost surviving in bad weather all the time, cold, rain and more rain, nothing to eat but mussels, limpets, clams and if lucky, they got wild fowl and seal, most of the time rotten seal. The party who traveled south to the Magellan strait, arrived home sooner than the party that headed north, although they suffered the greatest casualties since, as you can imagine, living on mussels could only last till they reach the atlantic, so when they headed north through the coast of Argentina, it was emptiness, there was no shellfish, so killing seals was the only option to save their lives. Lots of them died of hunger, and as related by Bulkeley, "hunger is void of all compassion; every person was so intent on the preservation of his own life that he was regardless of another's, and the bowels of commiseration were shut up".

The small group who decided to go north, suffered a great deal trying to find the way out of Wager Island. It is amazing how these people survived the cold, being wet all the time, they even have to eat the leather of their shoes. If the story of Bulkeley is interesting, the one told by Byron is that and more, since instead of being a diary, it tell the story with much more detail. You learn a little about Kaweskar and Chonos Indians, the way of living of these people, how they reached Chiloe with the help of these Indians, how they were treated by the Chiloe inhabitants, the customs of the island, a story of potatoes, chicha, plenty of food, estancias and the few ones living there -like those women who avidly smoked tobacco.
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By huggie on 15 Dec 2010
Format: Paperback
The book arrived in excellent condition well wrapped and with a little note from the seller giving a contact , so was able to confirm delivery direct to seller, which was very thoughtful.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Robinson Crusoe meets Rashamon 7 May 2009
By Cristina Bories - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the narration of an historic wreck in one of the most inhospitable parts of the world as told by two men; one in each of two opposing bands of survivors. One loyal to an inept captain and the other not. Survivors of both groups eventually make it back to England. The written account of the events as seen by each author, served as pledges for each side. It is fascinating comparing both accounts when they overlap.
But the stories separate as the teams split, one to surrender to the Spaniards and the other one to turn back through the treacherous Cape Horn. Both stories unfold with endless suffering through hunger, the cruelty of natives and scarier, the violent sea of southern Chile.
I read for the first time in Byron's tale a particularly sad episode in which he witnesses the killing of a native child by his own father. I read again about this in the Unknown Shore by P. Obrien (who lifted the whole story in that novel) and then lately, retold by Charles Darwin in The Voyage of the Beagle, when passing through the same part of the world some 80 years later. I guess a good story bears retelling.
pretty gripping 26 Jun 2012
By S. Clark - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is divided into two halves.

The first part, by a seaman, is alright. The story is told plainly and down-to-earth. Unfortunately, it is badly marred by the seaman being totally paranoid about being convicted of mutiny on his return to England. This greatly affected the things he selected to mention and the emphasis he placed on some of them. There are also roughly a dozen formal, signed memoranda documenting the position he and his mates where in and the reasons for their actions that were drawn up on the spot. Very dry and tedious stuff.

The second part, by an officer and an aristocrat, generally flows well and is pretty gripping. Some of the passages, especially towards the beginning, are written in that hifalutin convoluted manner the upper classes affected back in those days and are pointlessly difficult to unravel. The strenuous and arduous hardships in the first two thirds of his narrative are especially gripping. The last third that concerns their mostly kind and genteel treatment at the hands of the Spanish is fairly boring. It's only excusable by realizing that there wasn't much info about how people lived in those parts generally available back in Europe at that time.

Apparently Byron went on a subsequent voyage and wrote a book claiming there was a race of giants living down in those parts! Crazy.

Anyway, I mostly really enjoyed this book and it made me go out and order Richard Walter's narrative of commodore Anson's voyage and of whose squadron the Wager was a part.
An incredible tale of survival 7 July 2011
By Luis Mansilla M - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although the wreck of the Wager was really a tragedy, I could not but enjoy the accounts of Bulkeley and Byron since is a good source of information about Chile in the 1740s. The life of these people was miserable, almost surviving in bad weather all the time, cold, rain and more rain, nothing to eat but mussels, limpets, clams and if lucky, they got wild fowl and seal, most of the time rotten seal. The party who traveled south to the Magellan strait, arrived home sooner than the party that headed north, although they suffered the greatest casualties since, as you can imagine, living on mussels could only last till they reach the atlantic, so when they headed north through the coast of Argentina, it was emptiness, there was no shellfish, so killing seals was the only option to save their lives. Lots of them died of hunger, and as related by Bulkeley, "hunger is void of all compassion; every person was so intent on the preservation of his own life that he was regardless of another's, and the bowels of commiseration were shut up".

The small group who decided to go north, suffered a great deal trying to find the way out of Wager Island. It is amazing how these people survived the cold, being wet all the time, they even have to eat the leather of their shoes. If the story of Bulkeley is interesting, the one told by Byron is that and more, since instead of being a diary, it tell the story with much more detail. You learn a little about Kaweskar and Chonos Indians, the way of living of these people, how they reached Chiloe with the help of these Indians, how they were treated by the Chiloe inhabitants, the customs of the island, a story of potatoes, chicha, plenty of food, estancias and the few ones living there -like those women who avidly smoked tobacco. I just smiled, since I thought to myself that "not everything have changed since then". But it is not only that, the book narrates Valparaiso and especially the life in Santiago, the people, its customs and of course the earthquakes, that they experienced in Wager Island, Chiloe and Valparaiso.

If I had to chose, I think I would have chosen to go South, since if there is something I eat weekly is mussels, but I am sure also that possibly I could not made it alive. When I was reading this book, I was only thinking about a way to reach Wager Island. When I was a kid I traveled to Punta Arenas in the navy ship "Aquiles". I don't recall Wager Island, but I do recall "Golfo de Penas" and "Puerto Eden". To travel today it would be a fascinating adventure, I can only think of doing that in Kayak, from Puerto Eden heading north to Wager Island, Byron Island and the islands to the south, and from there to follow the same path Byron took, reaching lake "San Rafael" on foot and then navigating the channels till a point favorable to cross to Chiloe. You can go south also, to Punta Arenas, but that is a much more difficult path, certainly more dangerous. In summary, an incredible real story of survival and to be read by anyone, especially if you are from Chile.
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