Download Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage Audiobook

Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage Audiobook, by Brian Castner Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Brian Castner Narrator: Brian Castner Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2018 ISBN: 9780525531845
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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 journe —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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Quotes & Awards

  • “Brian Castner’s canoe trip along the 1,100-mile Mackenzie River in the Canadian Northwest Territories sounds daunting to the point of completely terrifying. His deep voice and matter-of-fact tone combine with a keen sense of timing, a glint of amusement, and a dash of fear to evoke hardship, awe, isolation, and clouds of buggy misery. Castner, along with a relay of four friends, re-creates Alexander Mackenzie’s attempt to discover the Northwest Passage in 1789. Both expeditions are described in alternating chapters. Some things are just the same—wind, whitecaps, mosquitoes. Others are completely different—it took years for the original fur trappers to receive payment, and now there is intermittent cell phone reception. Of course, the most significant difference is that Castner succeeds in finding melting polar seas where Mackenzie was stymied by impenetrable ice.”

    AudioFile

  • “Discovering history, and not just new landscapes around the next bend in the river, is one of the delights of Disappointment River. And, during a time when so many American descendants of foreign extraction rail against immigration, it’s useful to recall that all of us originated in a diaspora.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • "[Castner] provides a lively biography of Mackenzie… A vital addition to the library of the far north and of exploration.
    Kirkus,
    starred review

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About the Author

Brian Castner is an electrical engineering graduate of Marquette University who received a Bronze Star for his bomb-disposal service in the Iraq War as an officer in the Air Force. He is the author of several books, including The Long Walk (2012) and All the Ways We Kill and Die and The Long Walk, which was adapted into an opera that has been performed at prestigious venues nationwide. His journalism and commentary has appeared in Vice, the Daily Beast, New York Times, GQ, the Washington Post, Outside, LitHub, Atlantic, and other publications.