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  • Published: 5 February 2019
  • ISBN: 9781101973165
  • Imprint: Doubleday US
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $27.99

Disappointment River

Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage




In 1789, Alexander Mackenzie traveled 1,200 miles on the immense river in Canada that now bears his name, in search of the fabled Northwest Passage. In 2016, the acclaimed memoirist Brian Castner retraced Mackenzie’s route by canoe in a grueling journey—and discovered the Passage that Mackenzie could not find.

Disappointment River is a 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 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 in an attempt 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. What he reveals is a world that Alexander Mackenzie dreamed of but could never have fully imagined.

  • Published: 5 February 2019
  • ISBN: 9781101973165
  • Imprint: Doubleday US
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $27.99

About the author

Brian Castner

BRIAN CASTNER served three tours in the Middle East as an officer of the U.S. Air Force—two of them as the head of an EOD team in Iraq. In 2006, he received a Bronze Star for his service. Upon returning to the United States following his service, he consulted as an independent civilian contractor, training military EOD units on tactical bomb-disposal procedures prior to their deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. He lives in Buffalo, New York, with his wife and children.

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