Spirit of the North: The Quotable Sigurd F. Olson

Sigurd F. Olson was the most beloved wilderness advocate of his generation. His renowned writings, including the nature classics “The Singing Wilderness” and “Listening Point,” evoke the singular beauty and richness of the northern woods and lakes and reveal a philosophy of preservation that is as eloquent and relevant today as when he first wrote. The wilderness was the spring of happiness in Olson’s life, and he devoted himself to the pursuit of sharing this magic with others and ensuring its future existence.

Revealing Olson’s understanding and love of wilderness, Spirit of the North gathers together for the first time the most quotable and memorable of his well-loved passages gleaned not only from published works, but also from personal letters, journal entries, and speeches. Reflective, anecdotal, and universally poignant, this book is a chronology of thoughts and experiences that ebb and flow in their assuredness and reveal the whole man, a wilderness icon mired in doubt while he doggedly refused to abandon his dreams. David Backes, preeminent Olson biographer and scholar, contributes an introduction to each chapter, illuminating the historical context and personal significance of Olson’s words.

Frequently, during a quiet moment of contemplation on a canoe trip, Olson would read brief passages of poetry and prose scrawled on small scraps of paper for inspiration and peace of mind. Similarly, Spirit of the North is the ideal wilderness companion, passionate, authentic, and deeply reverent of the natural world.