The popularity of and critical acclaim for nonfiction writer David Grann rose steadily throughout the 2010s, a trend that has continued into the 2020s with the strong sales and praise for his 2023 book, The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder. The book was Grann’s fourth published since 2009, in addition to two collections of his nonfiction articles written for The New Yorker and other publications. The success of Grann’s books and articles is also reflected by a growing number of them being adapted into films—most famously, Killers of the Flower Moon, a 2023 movie directed by Martin Scorsese that was based on Grann’s 2017 book of the same title.

Grann was born in 1967 into a publishing family, with his mother, Phyllis E. Grann, serving as editor-in-chief and then CEO of Putnam Publishing as well as other powerful publishing positions in a career that ran from the late 1950s until 2011. As a student, Grann received a B.A. from Connecticut College and an M.A. from Tufts University before earning a master’s degree in creative writing from Boston University, where he also taught creative writing. Between graduating from Boston College in 1994 and 2003, Grann worked as an editor and wrote articles for various publications including The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and The Atlantic. Starting in 2003, Grann began working as a staff writer for The New Yorker.

In 2010, Grann published his first collection of 12 articles from The New Yorker and elsewhere called The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession. Prior to that, Grann had published his first book, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon in 2009. It was adapted into a film called The Lost City of Z that was directed by James Gray in 2016. In the book, Grann describes an ill-fated expedition to the Amazon in 1925 by British explorer Percy Fawcett. Grann himself traveled to the remote region as part of his research for the book.

Grann’s book, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, the basis for the 2023 film, was published in 2017. The book, which was a New York Times #1 bestseller, and the subsequent movie shed light on a disturbing chapter in American history that relatively few people had known very much about: the Osage murders in which scores of Osage persons were killed during the 1920s in crimes that remain officially unsolved. Grann published two more books in 2018—a collection called The Old Man and the Gun: And Other Tales of True Crime and The White Darkness, which stemmed from an article Grann had written of the same name about a modern day British explorer, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Worsely.

The Wager, which was published in April 2023 in the #1 slot on bestseller list of The New York Times has garnered Grann the strongest praise yet of any of his books. The screen rights for The Wager have been acquired by Killers of the Flower Moon director Martin Scorsese and one of the film’s stars, Leonardo DiCaprio. In recognition of Grann’s success as an author, the bookseller Barnes & Noble named him their 2023 Author of the Year.