A Wilderness Within: The Life of Sigurd F. Olson by David Backes

By David Backes

Sigurd Olson (1899-1982) was once said in the course of his lifetime as a pace-setter of the yankee environmental stream, an emblematic determine for a whole new release of activists. A desert inside is the 1st biography of this author, instructor, and activist who was once a harbinger of the hole of America’s ecological consciousness.

From opposing the construction of roads within the desert to conserving America’s such a lot precious wild rivers, Olson was once keen on fierce battles over the surroundings all through his lifestyles. tie testified earlier than Congress, spoke at city conferences, and used to be even hanged in effigy.

But Olson is healthier identified for his many essays that specific the sweetness, awe, and peace he present in the barren region. The lyricism and evocative fantastic thing about his prose turned a version for nature writers like Barry Lopez and Annie Dillard. Olson’s renowned books, together with The making a song desolate tract, Listening aspect, and Reflections from the North nation, are cherished by way of generations of readers, with over 300,000 copies sold.

A barren region inside of appears to be like past the environmental battles and books to reveal the interior forces that drove Sigurd Olson. He rejected his father’s direction as a minister and agonized over his personal religious existence, struggled with university and paintings. Backes information Olson’s painful route to changing into a author, and the actual and emotional tolls that his activism and writing took of him.

For this biography, Backes carried out interviews with Olson’s family members and had whole entry to Olson’s papers, diaries, correspondence, and images. This learn is what makes A desert in the authoritative portrait of 1 of the best environmentalists of the 20th century.

A lovely lookat a guy with a imaginative and prescient for the wildlife and a imaginative and prescient for himself, A barren region inside of can be crucial examining for Olson fanatics, historians, and outside humans round the kingdom.

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Additional resources for A Wilderness Within: The Life of Sigurd F. Olson

Sample text

He bought a rifle to hunt deer, and he also hunted rabbits and grouse and ducks. Once the weather was cold he would hang his kills high in the bare-branched trees so that wherever he hiked he had a supply of food waiting for him. He learned to track animals, and one day happened upon a pack of wolves feeding on a deer carcass. His first encounter with predation horrified him, as it would most people in a culture that portrayed wolves as bloodthirsty mon37 A Rolling Stone sters. It would be ten years before his negative attitude about wolves and other predators changed.

When he went out on a date with Kathryn and some other friends, he was shocked and dismayed when she and the others pulled out some liquor and began drinking. Sigurd refused to join in; he left them and walked home in the cold night air. He was not prepared to take notions of freedom and free thinking so far as to break with the Swedish Baptist injunction against alcohol. But liberty and convention were at war within him, and he would complain of the conflict all his life. Sigurd soon wrote Elizabeth Uhrenholdt an apologetic letter.

In 1899 Soren spent most of what little money he had and bought 160 acres along the Namekagon River about ten miles north of Hayward at Seeley. It was the year of Sigurd Olson's birth. Friends built a one-room cabin (with a loft for the children), and on April i, 1900, the Uhrenholdts moved in. They had no screens on the windows, no electricity, and no plumbing—not even a well. That first summer Soren and his oldest son, Jens, cleared eight acres of stumps, slashings, and brush left behind by loggers, and planted potatoes; they built an open shed for the livestock and gathered hay for the winter from swamps and the edges of logging roads.

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