Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage

Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage Review

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 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 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.

Title:Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Lizz

    Interesting research, but clearly written for a macho male audience.See my other ten word book reviews at my blog: tenwordbookreviews.wordpress.com...

  • gnarlyhiker

    disappointed...

  • Brenda Ayala

    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 impress...

  • Angie Boyter

    A really fascinating subject but ultimately disappointing due to writing styleSee my Amazon review: https://www.amazon.com/review/R3JE147......

  • Casey Wheeler

    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 Gall...

  • Paul Womack

    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, unpredictabilit...

  • Judy

    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 1...

  • Ward

    I really enjoyed this recounting of Alexander Mackenzie's voyage to the Arctic Ocean [kind of] via the Mackenzie River/ Deh Cho coupled with Brian Castner's own version. Reading his book has increased...

  • Batesharbuck

    Nice contrast between Castner's and MacKenzie's journeys. Both were incredibly tough, though Castner had much more of a safety net. He brought up lots of topics and issues: First Nations rights, clima...

  • Ricky Duncan

    This was a giveaway win for me. The blurb caught my interest, the book held my interest. Very nice mix of researched history with the authors personal experiences running side by side. I must admit I ...