David Grann is a staff writer for The New Yorker. His new book is The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder.

“I became very haunted by the stories that [nations] don't tell. Nations and empires preserve their powers not only by the stories they tell, but also by the stories they leave out. … Early in my career, if I came across the silences in a story, I might not have highlighted them, because I thought, Well, there's nothing to tell there. And now I try to let the silences speak.”