RaveThe Guardian (UK)Grann is one of America’s most meticulous narrative nonfiction writers ... Grann begins weaving into the story references to older forms of sea poetry and narrative, for reasons that don’t become fully clear until later ... The beauty of The Wager unfurls like a great sail. Grann’s book is not about romance but truth and he has prepared the reader. It’s a story about the stories we tell ourselves ... There’s an expectation, in reviewing a book like The Wager, to balance its strengths with some discussion of its flaws. But The Wager is one of the finest nonfiction books I’ve ever read. I can only offer the highest praise a writer can give: endless envy, as deep and salty as the sea.
RaveThe Guardian (UK)... a book designed to discomfort its reader ... it’s disorienting when Ball slips in and out of a stream of consciousness that seems to imagine the thoughts of his racist ancestors in a sympathetic way...All of this could seem, to the impatient reader, like an effort to empathize with the racist mind ... Ball refuses to allow his readers that distance. He writes of Lecorgne as despicable but fully human, forcing the reader to view the world through the long-dead man’s little round-framed spectacles. All of which makes Ball’s eventual point so much more powerful ... the second half of the book focuses largely on the consequences of his ancestors’ actions, and the people affected. These are not cursory mentions: Ball creates detailed and loving portraits of people such as Janel Santiago Marsalis, who is initially wary of Ball in New Orleans. She’s a Creole artist who paints her own ancestors. Some of her family died at the hands of Lecorgne’s fellow Klansmen. Through her art and in the book she, as Tulane’s students might hope, lifts Black voices mightily.