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Disappointment River: Book summary and reviews of Disappointment River by Brian Castner

Disappointment River

Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage

by Brian Castner

Disappointment River by Brian Castner X
Disappointment River by Brian Castner
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About this book

Book Summary

In 1789, Alexander Mackenzie traveled 1200 miles on the immense river in Canada that now bears his name, in search of the fabled Northwest Passage that had eluded mariners for hundreds of years. In 2016, the acclaimed memoirist Brian Castner retraced Mackenzie's route by canoe in a grueling journey - and discovered the Passage he could not find.

Disappointment River is a dual historical narrative and travel memoir that at once transports readers back to the heroic age of North American exploration and places them in a still rugged but increasingly fragile Arctic wilderness in the process of profound alteration by the dual forces of globalization and climate change. Fourteen years before Lewis and Clark, Mackenzie set off to cross the continent of North America with a team of voyageurs and Chipewyan guides, to find a trade route to the riches of the East. What he found was a river that he named "Disappointment." Mackenzie died thinking he had failed. He was wrong.

In this book, Brian Castner not only retells the story of Mackenzie's epic voyages in vivid prose, he personally retraces his travels, battling exhaustion, exposure, mosquitoes, white water rapids and the threat of bears. He transports readers to a world rarely glimpsed in the media, of tar sands, thawing permafrost, remote indigenous villages and, at the end, a wide open Arctic Ocean that could become a far-northern Mississippi of barges and pipelines and oil money.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A vital addition to the library of the far north and of exploration." - Kirkus

"An exhilarating historical narrative...Historians and armchair travelers alike will be equally pleased with this volume." - Publisher's Weekly

"Appealing on both historical and contemporary levels, Castner's work will please readers fascinated by tales of discovery."- Booklist

"The narrative shines when Castner describes his time on the Deh Cho [Mackenzie River], creating a more sympathetic understanding of the difficulties of Mackenzie's voyage." - Library Journal

"...Intriguing and enlightening...For anyone concerned with the global effects of climate change, the meaning behind Disappointment River becomes alarmingly clear." - BookPage

"Whether recounting the historic search for the Northwest Passage or his own epic journey on the Mackenzie River, Castner is an able guide, a steady hand, a voice of reason. You'll want to sit in his canoe and ride this out. I couldn't put Disappointment River down." - Dean King, author of Skeletons on the Zahara and The Feud

This information about Disappointment River was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Brian Castner Author Biography

Brian Castner is a former Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer who received a Bronze Star for his service in the Iraq War. He is the author of two books, The Long Walk (2012) and All the Ways We Kill and Die (2016), and the co-editor of the anthology The Road Ahead (2017). His journalism and essays have appeared in Esquire, Wired, Vice, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and other publications. He and his family live in Buffalo, New York.

Link to Brian Castner's Website

Other books by Brian Castner at BookBrowse
  • The Long Walk jacket
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