This writer and explorer traces Alexander Mackenzie's 1789 Canadian river journey to discover the Northwest Passage. Where Mackenzie was blocked by subarctic ice, global warming has cleared the path for Castner, whose book merges a history of Mackenzie's travels with his own observations.
Brian Castner’s Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage, a mixed history and travel memoir, goes a long way toward correcting the record of discovery in North America ... 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.
He’s a compelling writer with a fluid style that mirrors the smooth passages of his canoe through the Mackenzie. The author’s friendliness and tolerant approach to Canada’s native population gives readers a clear picture of the difficult life in the Northwest Territories. Castner also presents a grim picture of the effects of climate change on the far north. He encountered no ice as he paddled into the Arctic. Disappointment River is an adventure tale that will keep you happily reading while safely in your armchair.
In Disappointment River Castner alternates an account of [river explorer] Mackenzie’s voyage with a chronicle of his own repeat in the summer of 2016 ... Castner is an uneven writer whose ultra-compressed sentences can leave the reader scratching his head ... At his best, however, Castner has the Conradian ability to make you see and feel ... Disappointment River abounds in vivid details.