Disappointment River
In 1789, Alexander Mackenzie travelled the 1,125 miles of the immense river in Canada that now bears his name, in search of the fabled Northwest Passage, only to confront impassable pack ice. In 2016, the acclaimedmemoirist 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 energy extraction and climate change. Eleven years before Lewis and Clark, the Scottish explorer Alexander Mackenzie actually crossed the North American continent with a team of voyageurs and Native guides. Before that he was the first to discover a route to the Arctic Ocean from the Great Lakes, along the river he named "Disappointment" because he believed he'd failed in his mission to find a trade route to the riches of the East. In fact he had -- he was just two-plus centuries early. In this book, Brian Castner not only retells the story of Mackenzie's epic voyages in vivid prose, he personally retraces his travels in an 1,125-mile canoe voyage down the river that bears his name, 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 Native villages and, at the end, a wide open Arctic Ocean that is quickly becoming a far-northern Mississippi of barges and pipelines and oil money.

Disappointment River Details

TitleDisappointment River
Author
ReleaseMar 13th, 2018
PublisherMcClelland & Stewart
ISBN-139780771023958
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Travel, Autobiography, Memoir, Adventure, Historical, Environment, North American Hi..., American History, Biography

Disappointment River Review

  • Lizz
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting research, but clearly written for a macho male audience.See my other ten word book reviews at my blog: tenwordbookreviews.wordpress.com
  • Brenda Ayala
    January 1, 1970
    The Northwest Passage is a giant pain in the ass. It’s harsh and cold and the weather is entirely unforgiving; it seems to drive people half-mad.After learning that, it makes it all the more impressive that Alexander Mackenzie did it back in the late 1700s and that our author followed in his footsteps more than 200 years later. It’s an arduous journey that is characterized by a ton of hazards. It was a surprisingly intense for being an historical narrative and a travel log. I enjoyed learning mo The Northwest Passage is a giant pain in the ass. It’s harsh and cold and the weather is entirely unforgiving; it seems to drive people half-mad.After learning that, it makes it all the more impressive that Alexander Mackenzie did it back in the late 1700s and that our author followed in his footsteps more than 200 years later. It’s an arduous journey that is characterized by a ton of hazards. It was a surprisingly intense for being an historical narrative and a travel log. I enjoyed learning more about a part of North American history I had no idea even existed.
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  • Angie Boyter
    January 1, 1970
    A really fascinating subject but ultimately disappointing due to writing styleSee my Amazon review: https://www.amazon.com/review/R3JE147...
  • Casey Wheeler
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free Kindle copy of Disappointment River by Brian Castner courtesy of Net Galley and Doubleday Books, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review to Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my nonfiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus pages.I requested this book as the description sounded interesting - a mix of history and a modern day reenactment. This is the first book by Brian Castner tha I received a free Kindle copy of Disappointment River by Brian Castner courtesy of Net Galley and Doubleday Books, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review to Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my nonfiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus pages.I requested this book as the description sounded interesting - a mix of history and a modern day reenactment. This is the first book by Brian Castner that I have read.I had high hopes for this book, but unfortunately it was less than stellar. The premise of the book is Alexander MacKenzie's search for the Northwest Passage and the author's trip following Mackenzie's path. The parts dealing with the history of MacKenzie's trip were the most enjoyable part of the book. The author's modern day narrative I found to be rambling at times and his writing style made it hard to focus and enjoy the book. It simply was not engaging.Some other early reviews have viewed the book differently, but my recommendation is to check it out from your local library before deciding to invest in a copy.
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  • Judy
    January 1, 1970
    My kind of book. Castner provides well-documented history of Alexander MacKenzie's expedition in 1789 from Slave Lake to the Artic Ocean along the Den Cho (MacKenzie) River. Then he narrates his own 1000 mile journey in 2016 following MacKenzie's route. This river is huge (miles wide) and the terrain has changed minimally in 227 years. MacKenzie was in search of the Northwest Passage and called the river Disappointment River because he thought he failed. The ice floes in the Artic have retreated My kind of book. Castner provides well-documented history of Alexander MacKenzie's expedition in 1789 from Slave Lake to the Artic Ocean along the Den Cho (MacKenzie) River. Then he narrates his own 1000 mile journey in 2016 following MacKenzie's route. This river is huge (miles wide) and the terrain has changed minimally in 227 years. MacKenzie was in search of the Northwest Passage and called the river Disappointment River because he thought he failed. The ice floes in the Artic have retreated to the extent that now there is a passage to the Pacific, but in the 1700's, pack ice closed the strait.
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  • Paul Womack
    January 1, 1970
    Not quite what I expected, but more. A reflective account of several lives connected by a tumultuous river. Reading this book I was reminded that beyond our tame exiatences is passion, unpredictability, the unexpected, and for some of those still bold, the lure of discovery. I would not embark on such a joorney, but the author made it possible to share his adventure emotionally and mentally.
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  • Rich
    January 1, 1970
    A highly-enjoyable tale of a historic canoe journey and a modern day trip to trace the original path. More historical and travel journal than adventure, but Castner does a good job of putting you in the heart of the Mackenzie River. I got itchy just thinking about the mosquito swarms!
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  • Marsha
    January 1, 1970
    This well-crafted memoir/biography takes the reader on an intense journey into the history of Alexander Mackenzie's exploration of northwest passage as we follow the author make the same journey 200 years later.. Wow. Well done!
  • Brenda Schneider
    January 1, 1970
    Enjoyed the tracing of a historical trip. I would recommend reading. I won this book through goodreads.
  • Heidi Hoff
    January 1, 1970
    I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting read, but not quite into the writing style.
  • Brian
    January 1, 1970
    Disappointment River is both a well-researched work of history, chronicling the life of the explorer and fur trader Alexander Mackenzie and his quest to find the Northwest Passage, and also a compelling modern-day adventure story that tells of the author's attempt to retrace Mackenzie's route through the rugged Canadian wilderness. Readers interested in North American colonial history, especially that of the fur trade, climate change, the economics of place and geography, and/or backcountry trav Disappointment River is both a well-researched work of history, chronicling the life of the explorer and fur trader Alexander Mackenzie and his quest to find the Northwest Passage, and also a compelling modern-day adventure story that tells of the author's attempt to retrace Mackenzie's route through the rugged Canadian wilderness. Readers interested in North American colonial history, especially that of the fur trade, climate change, the economics of place and geography, and/or backcountry travel will find much to admire in this book. Once again Brian Castner demonstrates his writerly prowess in combining literary genres to illuminating hybrid effect.
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