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Brian Castner

Decorated war veteran and author of The Long Walk

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Brian Castner presents “The Long Walk” at the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Selection
  • About Brian Castner

    Brian Castner served as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer in the US Air Force from 1999 to 2007, deploying to Iraq to command bomb disposal units in Balad and Kirkuk in 2005 and 2006. His memoir The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows is the story of his struggle to survive modern combat in Iraq and his personal tale of confronting the new person he had become upon returning to his family. Castner astonishes audiences with his powerful and harrowing story of the terror, excitement, and camaraderie of combat, and the lonely battle against the unshakable fear, anxiety, and survivor guilt that he—like so many veterans—carries inside.

    After leaving the active military, Brian Castner became a consultant and contractor, training Army and Marine Corps units prior to their tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. His writing has appeared in a number of national and regional publications, including The Wall Street JournalNewsweekForeign Policy,Publishers Weekly, and Garry Trudeau’s The Sandbox, an online forum for dispatches by Iraq and Afghanistan service members. His latest book, Disappointment River, is a travel memoir and historical account of Castner’s retracing of Alexander Mackenzie’s 1789 journey in search of the Northwest Passage.

  • Speaking Topics

    Covering the Forever War

    After writing his war memoir, The Long Walk, Castner became a freelance journalist, and has reported from conflict areas around the world. Take a ride across the globe, with American soldiers in Afghanistan, desperate Ebola doctors in Liberia, and to the rise of ISIS in Iraq, to hear about the forces shaping our world.

    A Journey to the Arctic

    In the summer of 2016, Castner paddled the 1100 mile Mackenzie River, the second longest in North America, all the way to Arctic Ocean, to tell the story of Alexander Mackenzie in Disappointment River. But only a few years before, he was struggling to return home after combat tours in Iraq. Hear his remarkable story of Post Traumatic Growth, and how a bomb suit in Iraq led to a canoe in the Arctic.

    The Challenge of Climate Change

    In 1789, when Alexander Mackenzie paddled the river that now bears his name, he was met at the Arctic with impassable pack ice. When Castner paddled the same route in 2016, he saw open ocean. Castner discusses his journey through traditional indigenous villages, and how oil pipelines, drilling, melting snow roads, and climate change are affecting their way of life, as the Arctic warms twice as fast as the rest of the globe.

    Ideas are a Matter of Timing

    Some ideas are remarkably ahead of their time. Charles Babbage invented a steam-powered computer in the nineteenth century, Kodak developed digital photography half a century before the smart phone, and Alexander Mackenzie discovered a Northwest Passage two hundred years too early. Hear Castner tell Mackenzie's little-known story, and how in business and enterprise, timing is as important as ideas themselves.

  • Video

  • Praise for Brian Castner

    Praise for Disappointment River

    [Castner] provides a lively biography of Mackenzie… A vital addition to the library of the far north and of exploration.

    Kirkus, starred review

    Praise for The Long Walk

    The Long Walk brings home in a visceral way the hidden, personal burden of war that many veterans continue to carry.

    The Boston Globe

    Direct and disturbing...A painful but compelling read, even as Castner finds ways to cope, at least partially, with his long walk back at home.

    NPR
  • Books by Brian Castner

  • Media About Brian Castner

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and Availability

  • 212 572-2013
  • Brian Castner travels from Buffalo, NY

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