The following book review was written by Bobbi King:
From the Hornets' Nest to Custer's Last Stand. The Immigrant Story of Norwegian Sergeant Olaus Hansen. By Ozzie Sollien. Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing. 2013. 312 pages.
Mr. Sollien writes, "Like most Norwegian boys born in the 1950s Asbjørn "Ozzie" Sollien [the author] grew up reading fictionalized stories about cowboys and Indians of the Old West. The books fueled a growing interest in American history, an interest enhanced by the knowledge that Norway and Norwegians had a special place in the development of the states in the Midwest, such as Illinois, Wisconsin Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas."
Mr. Sollien writes about a real person, Olaus Hansen, and recounts his Civil War and Indian War experiences based on researched evidence, supplemented by the author's inferences as to Olaus' thoughts and actions.
The skirmishes and battles are well researched, based on the author's thorough study of the historic documents and his conscientious examination of the records. I read this book with complete trust that he's presenting the conditions as they very likely were. His list of sources in the back of the book is extensive and sound.
Hornets' Nest sets the scenes of Olaus' life through the eyes of people, luring us right into the story. His beginning paragraphs read:
Anne Marie Hansen Wiig stared out of the window into the cold Norwegian December night. The moon was full and bright, illuminating the undulating landscape surrounding the Nordeeg farm. A red fox trotted confidently across the fields, letting out a howling bark. Anne Marie should have been elated thinking about the impending Christmas of 1882. This was an old and celebrated custom in Lutheran Norway, and December was the month of Advent, waiting and preparing for the holiday to come. But her eyes were sad as they moved back to the letter she held in her hand, the letter the mail man brought today with news about her baby brother. She moved closer to the flickering candle and read it again, still not quite believing what she saw. There it was, in black and white, the message from her brother Hans in Lake Park, Becker County, Minnesota. Olaus was dead. Apparently he had taken his own life, Hans said. He did not know if this was true, or how it had happened. The coroner's report just stated that it was suicide.
Anne Marie let her thoughts wander as she kept looking out the window. He was still so alive in her mind, her little brother who went to America in May of 1861 to become a farmer in Iowa, just like his oldest brother, Ole. But within a few months developing events changed his plans, quickly laying them to waste. He was sent into the turmoil of the America Civil War, as were 6000 Norwegians with him. By November he was a soldier in the 12th Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment, going to war against the Confederate States of America.
Mr. Sollien's book reminds me of another exceptionally well-written book by a non-American: Measuring America by Andro Linklater. These two authors, not of American birth, have written noteworthy chronicles of certain times in America with stories that are based in fact but written with such skill that we connect to the characters and the times.
Mr. Sollien's book will appeal to Civil War and Midwest historians, as well as those of hardy Norwegian descent. The storytelling is first-rate, and will likely draw an even wider audience.
Hornets' Nest to Custer's Last Stand. The Immigrant Story of Norwegian Sergeant Olaus Hansen is available from the publisher at https://www.createspace.com/3851757, from Amazon at http://goo.gl/udwxz1 and from many other genealogy book stores.