Wasa-Wasa – Harry Macfie & Hans G. Westerlund

 The best thing about having a wish list of books is that the not so famous or just downright obscure books, tend to get forgotten about when hunting through the local bookshops.  So when you get books (such as Wasa-Wasa) for a christmas present they take on an extra special meaning when read.

I heard of Wasa-Wasa through a reference in Ancient Mariner, a superb  history book detailing the life of Samuel Hearne, an 18th century naturalist, and explorer of Canada and when I got my hands on it, it was a prime example of the hidden gem.

Books with maps are great, FACT!  There is no getting away from it, maps suggest exotic, exciting, unknown places with mysterious names that conjure up all sorts of imaginative extravagance.  For all that though it was the picture of two men and dog team camping in the vast wilderness of a snowy forest seemingly completely isolated from the world, that impressed me most and got me in the mood for some adventure.

The book is essentially the selected memoirs of Harry Macfie, a Swede (descended from Scotland) and his Sam Kilburn, an Englishman who took part in the gold rushes of Canada and Alaska.  Yet instead of being a dry history of obsession over the yellow stuff, it is so much more. There are a plethora of reminiscences ranging from fleeing huge forest fires, being stalked and constantly attacked by wolves to races against time to escape the oncoming storms.

Each chapter, tells a story and although the chapters are fairly short, there very nature brings them to life and they remain vibrant with colour and atmosphere. It’s a lovely world to lose yourself in but not one to be rushed, I managed to eke out each chapter and only read six or seven pages a day, so great was my desire to make it last.

6 Replies to “Wasa-Wasa – Harry Macfie & Hans G. Westerlund”

    1. I sure did, there are loads of memorable moments, it’s tough to pick my favourites. Each story is not dramatised to much either, so although some pretty intense things happen you never get the feeling that things are exaggerated just for the readers sake.


  1. Hi there, I am looking to purchase this book, I noticed there are a few on amazon.com but the covers don’t match, just wondering if you can confirm if it’s the same book or not?


    1. The book I received was a gift and it was the 1953 version and came coverless so I couldn’t comfirm any of the covers…however the dates do match as does the naiming of Hans G. Westerlund so I am positive that this is the same book.


  2. Athol C:
    at age 79 I have to say WasaWasa is a book which looms large in my memory of great books. I was given a copy years ago, treasured it, loaned it out, and never saw it again. Jack London eat your heart out! I envy those who are now reading it for the first time. Some descriptions of the Native Americans in Alaska reflect the biases of the times, but this is balanced by other descriptions. All these comments from memory, and I must get another copy to give to my grandchildren.


    1. My copy resides across the pond in the US at the moment and I am happy to share it for a time but am looking forward to reliving those vivid adventures again. It seems that everybody who reads this book loves it and it mystifies me why it isn’t more popular. I wish you luck in your search for a copy as I am sure people will have a hard time deciding to part with them.


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