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Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage

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....

Title : Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage
Author :
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ISBN : 9780771023958
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 352 pages
Url Type : Home » Disappointment » Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage

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Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage Reviews

  • 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 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
    ...more

  • Sue

    I won this book on Goodreads. I will give it a fair and honest review.

    Castner’s Disappointment River is advertised as part historical narrative and part travel memoir. I will admit as a history buff I originally was more interested in the historical narrative. Once I started reading, Castner’s personal journey held my interest far more than Makenzie’s journey.

    Castner tells the story of Alexander Makenzie’s trip up the Deh Cho in the 1700s as he searches for the Northwest Passage, and tells his o
    ...more

  • Jim

    Marco Polo. Columbus. Magellan. Henry Hudson. Captain Cook. Alexander Mackenzie. Lewis & Clark....Mackenzie? We know the names of the great explorers (for both good and bad)--with one big exception. Alexander Mackenzie. I had read something about him as a kid and was fascinated by his story. Finally,with Castner's book published in 2018, we have the complete story of his life--and his epic journey in 1789 across a vast almost completely uninhabited land which today is called "the Northwest T ...more

  • 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 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 ...more

  • 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 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
    ...more

  • Amelia

    Part history, part memoir - an interesting modern day exploration in the Canadian north that retraces a fascinating part of Canada's story. Made me want to pick up my paddle and get a few mosquito bites.

  • Michelle

    Interesting read, but not quite into the writing style.