A Long Pull from Stavanger: The Reminiscences of a Norwegian Immigrant


Birger Osland fashions the title of this spirited autobiography from Kipling’s song of the Vikings in Puck of Pook’s Hill– a song that recalls Norsemen pulling from home from far journeys.

The author’s own story does not lack a Viking touch, but it is the saga of modern Norseman who pulled away from Stavanger and across the Atlantic to the American Middle West– to Chicago, with its “railroads, factories, and stockyards, mud, smoke, and smells.”

These reminiscences have their setting in American urban life, but they range far beyond the limits of the great city on Lake Michigan in which the author, starting with a working capital of six dollars, carved out a business and professional career that won him success and fame.

In these pages is a vivid account of Chicago from the late 1880’s to our own day, interpreted by a devoted Chicagoan who, when a great civic enterprise was questioned, said, “It w9ill be done and it is being done.”

Here, too, is the story of a Norwegian immigrant who became robustly American. He served his country as an officer of the American Army during the first World War, when he was stationed in Oslo as a military attach̩. In a series of fascinating chapters he records the currents and crosscurrentsРand intriguesРthat marked the play of world forces in that neutral country. This story, never before told in detail, is a new contribution to the history of that war.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the tale that Birger Osland tells in these pages, however, is his eye-witness account of the varied activates and institutions of his fellow Norwegian Americans through half a century of change. The novelist O. E. Rolvaag made the life of the rural “giants in the earth” live in fiction. Here, in forthright autobiographical prose, Birger Osland catches many of the overtones and undertones of life among the urban counterparts of Per Hansa and Beret.

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