“History shapes us even when we’re completely oblivious to it” says author David Grann

On May 3, 2023, author David Grann - of The Lost City of Z and Killers of the Flower Moon - was interviewed onstage by WOSU's Ann Fisher about his newest release, The Wager.

Vivid descriptions of sea worms, scurvy, mutiny, the origins of seafaring idioms, captain's logs, and naval battles captivated the audience in attendance at Westerville Central High School.

As Ann Fisher so aptly put it, "The waves, the weather, the violence, the mess...I don't think I've ever read a more engrossing description of scurvy."

 Throughout the onstage interview, David Grann painted a clear picture of what drives him as an author.

History shapes us even when we're completely oblivious to it...I never understand why people are afraid to learn history. It's the way you learn how you want to be.

[The Wager] is a story about storytelling - the way we tell stories, shape stories, as people and as nations. It's a parable for our own times - what gets remembered and which version of history will prevail.

A Lewis Center book club who recently read The Wager together and were over-the-moon excited to meet the author together - so much so that they arrived an hour early for the event!

During the Q&A, one couple revealed that they were heading off on a trip to Osage County, Oklahoma in a few days, a trip that was inspired by reading Killers of the Flower Moon. As a still frequent visitor to the area, David Grann gave advice on where to go and what to see to get the most out of their experience.

Local author Eric Walker shared his thoughts about the event.

Upon learning that bestselling author David Grann was going to appear at the Westerville Central High School to talk about his book The Wager, I knew I’d have to attend. I had seen Grann featured on 60 Minutes and learned about the depth of research he did to bring the story of those aboard The Wager to life, a lot of which he recounted at the school in humorous fashion.

I think of my feet planted on ground site visits to slave cabins in South Carolina, Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, VA, and Sloss Furnace in Birmingham, to gain a “real life” experience of what my fictional characters experienced as I write in Lost Souls Recovered.  Then I think of the physical and mental harrowing and treacherous water adventures that Grann undertook and the yearslong research and understand why his books are bestsellers. That definitely contributes to making him a great and talented author. 

He’s an inspiring author who has encouraged me to think outside the proverbial box when doing research for a book. 

Thanks to the Westerville Public Library for inviting Grann to share his story and genius with the local public. 

Learn more about the Meet the Authors series.