Bear Man of Admiralty Island
A Biography of Allen E. Hasselborg
Bear Man of Admiralty Island is the life story of a rugged loner and self-taught naturalist who came to southeastern Alaska in 1901 to seek his fortune in the awe-inspiring wilderness but found his destiny instead. In the process, this sturdy Midwesterner learned the skills of a prospector, fisherman, trapper, guide, boatbuilder, and homesteader. At all these things he eventually excelled, but his greatest fame came from his greatest skill: he was a peerless bear hunter. He joined several natural history expeditions and worked for about ten years as a specimen collector and guide. He later guided sportsmen and photographers interested in Southeastern's wildlife and majestic natural beauty. As his respect for the great brown bears increased, he lost his interest in killing them, and his experiences inspired conservationists who lobbied to protect Admiralty Island from logging. Hasselborg's keen wit, fierce independence, and eccentric ways attracted much attention during his lifetime. He was an extraordinary man who was in some ways a perfectly ordinary Alaskan of his time, and author Howe reflects on both sides of that character in a balanced, detailed way.
"Howe does an excellent job . . . while the book is nonfiction, it reads as entertainingly
as a novel. . . . The publishers say they intended [Bear Man] to be 'worth putting into a backpack before setting off across tundra or through
rain forest.' They've succeeded with Howe's portrait of Hasselborg."
"A sensitively written account of a unique Alaskan outdoorsman and naturalist."
"[A] narrative adventure story told by a gifted writer . . . Howe's study of an Alaskan
pioneer demonstrates the utility of biography as a case study of a time, a place,
and a way of life. Allen Hasselborg was an extraordinary individual."
—Pacific Northwest Quarterly
"Hasselborg was the quintessential back-woodsman. . . . Stories about him, circulating
by word of mouth among zoologists and big game hunters and later published in adventure
magazines gave life to the image of Alaska as the last frontier where self-reliant
individualists could still define life on their own terms."
—Journal of American History