A Sand County Almanac : With Other Essays on Conservation from Round River
A Sand County Almanac : With Other Essays on Conservation from Round River

 
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First published in 1949 and praised in The New York Times Book Review as "a trenchant book, full of vigor and bite," A Sand County Almanac combines some of the finest nature writing since Thoreau with an outspoken and highly ethical regard for America's relationship to the land. Written with an unparalleled understanding of the ways of nature, the book includes a section on the monthly changes of the Wisconsin countryside; another part that gathers informal pieces written by Leopold over a forty-year period as he traveled through the woodlands of Wisconsin, Iowa, Arizona, Sonora, Oregon, Manitoba, and elsewhere; and a final section in which Leopold addresses the philosophical issues involved in wildlife conservation. As the forerunner of such important books as Annie Dillard's Pilrim at Tinker Creek, Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, and Robert Finch's The Primal Place, this classic work remains as relevant today as it was forty years ago.

Published in 1949, shortly after the author's death, A Sand County Almanac is a classic of nature writing, widely cited as one of the most influential nature books ever published. Writing from the vantage of his summer shack along the banks of the Wisconsin River, Leopold mixes essay, polemic, and memoir in his book's pages. In one famous episode, he writes of killing a female wolf early in his career as a forest ranger, coming upon his victim just as she was dying, "in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes.... I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view." Leopold's road-to-Damascus change of view would find its fruit some years later in his so-called land ethic, in which he held that nothing that disturbs the balance of nature is right. Much of Almanac elaborates on this basic premise, as well as on Leopold's view that it is something of a human duty to preserve as much wild land as possible, as a kind of bank for the biological future of all species. Beautifully written, quiet, and elegant, Leopold's book deserves continued study and discussion today. --Gregory McNamee

Customer Reviews:

  • Learn of Environmental Ethics
    An American classic, A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold extolls the highest virtues attainable in nature when Homo sapiens adopt a land ethic, which recognizes that, regardless of economic considerations, the preservation of the natural environment is an obligation. Leopold introduces the reader to wildlife and the land on a personal level, while stressing the fact that a communal relationship exists between human beings and the earth. Instead of presenting people as domineering conquerors over the environment, Leopold explains that humans are interdependent members of an energy circuit called the biota, which consists of all living animals and plants. [...] Leopold became one of the first to understand history from more than a human perspective. The author recognizes humanity's potential to disrupt the natural flow of energy within an ecosystem, which is a self-regulating, self-sustaining community of organisms in relationship to each other. However, this book challenges the reader to pursue a state of harmony with the environment, by encouraging an internal intellectual change within one's mind, away from economic self-interest and toward a preservation of nature for its own sake.
    The text is extremely well written in four parts and lures the reader into later chapters of ponderous discourse by first presenting observations about Leopold's sand farm in Wisconsin. Like an exquisite, delicate wildflower attracts the honey bee with scent, sight, and content, the author unveils a bounteous repast of intimate details concerning history in tree rings, the woodcock's sky dance, natural flora, the range of animals, pine cone reproduction, and how pine needles have terms similar to politicians. In part two, Leopold summarizes forty years of his experiences with the natural world around him and allows the reader into his thoughts. Sometimes the vastness of these chapters in the book overwhelms the reader with feelings of sadness and loss. The author realistically assesses the consequences of humans who think of nature as a commodity by describing the disappearance of marsh land and birds, the farmer's judgement concerning which animals should survive, and the extinct passenger pigeon. The author's literary skill absorbs the reader through the odyssey of X and Y atoms as they tour the biota, the changed Flambeau river, and an especially moving experience-when a wild wolf that Leopold shot dies while staring into the face of his assailant. During part three, the reader, consciously or unconsciously, makes some personal choices about the land ethic. The author is extremely influenced by two types of trees growing on a mountain in Germany, considering one half of the mountain was preserved and the other half was disturbed by farming. Unfortunately, the soil on one side has never recovered and will grow only Scotch pine, while the other side is world famous for its Spessart oak trees. People did not intend to permanently damage the soil, but they did. "The Upshot," part four of this "Bible" of conservation, gets to the heart of the matter by detailing how a land ethic can be decided upon by a society, instituted by those who care, and realized by a change in each person from within.
    It is easy to see why this book, A Sand County Almanac, is still quoted today. Has the United States or the world considered instituting a land ethic? Are major decisions involving mining, farming, manufacturing, hydroelectric power, housing construction, waste disposal, recreation, and nuclear energy utilizing a universal land ethic? Why not? Has the scientific world given modern society the answers concerning land and water renewal or how to prevent animal extinction? All of the basic philosophical arguments presented in Leopold's book are still being pondered by conservationists today. Besides explaining why a land ethic is needed, this book is an indictment upon each generation that reads it and yet does nothing. Not only is Leopold's text a good read, but it is also an essential one. These basic principles, written in "The Upshot," should be adopted as the ethical environmental doctrine for the twenty-first century.
    1. Land is not merely soil.
    2. Certain native plants and animals keep the land healthy. Others may not.
    3. Man-made changes are of a different order than evolutionary changes, and have effects more comprehensive than is intended or foreseen. (255)
    Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and esthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.
    It is wrong when it tends otherwise. (262)
    Marilyn Glaser, Student
    Great Basin College
    Elko, NV...more info
  • The anchor volume of an American conservation bookshelf
    The definitive anchor volume on the bookshelf of modern American conservation. Leopold presents the big picture, painted as many small scenes. Again and again, I return to the February essay, "Good Oak," a classic of natural history writing. Leopold is a natural historian of the old school.

    If recycling or climate change or energy has brought you into the conservation movement, this is the first book to read to get grounded in conservation from the ecological perspective. For those coming in from the animal rights movement, here is a book to help make sense of the consumptive side of conservation. For everyone else - here are nature writings from a man well-rounded in both his consumptive use and his appreciation of the landscape that may help explain where we conservationists are coming from....more info
  • What Do You Value?
    An American classic, A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold extolls the highest virtues attainable in nature when Homo sapiens adopt a land ethic, which recognizes that, regardless of economic considerations, the preservation of the natural environment is an obligation. Leopold introduces the reader to wildlife and the land on a personal level, while stressing the fact that a communal relationship exists between human beings and the earth. Instead of presenting people as domineering conquerors over the environment, Leopold explains that humans are interdependent members of an energy circuit called the biota, which consists of all living animals and plants.

    It is easy to see why this book, A Sand County Almanac, is still quoted today. Has the United States or the world considered instituting a land ethic? Are major decisions involving mining, farming, manufacturing, hydroelectric power, housing construction, waste disposal, recreation, and nuclear energy utilizing a universal land ethic? Why not? Has the scientific world given modern society the answers concerning land and water renewal or how to prevent animal extinction? All of the basic philosophical arguments presented in Leopold's book are still being pondered by conservationists today. Besides explaining why a land ethic is needed, this book is an indictment upon each generation that reads it and yet does nothing. Not only is Leopold's text a good read, but it is also an essential one.

    Marilyn Glaser, Student
    Great Basin College...more info

  • Possibly the most important book in American Conservation
    What does one say about a classic? Leopold obviously has his fanatic defenders, and there seems to be quite an industry these days in digging up everything that he ever wrote or said, including stuff that I imagine he would much rather have left lying. Fortunately this collection doesn't delve too deeply, and we get the best of Leopold as the conservationist/naturalist writing at the height of his powers. To be frank, the ecology of parts of Leopold's writing is very dated and in some cases simply wrong, but it is the product of a very different mind-set in which "stability" appeared to have validity, and while we may wonder at the evidence of other landscapes that Leopold ignores or skips over, we must also wonder at his skill as a writer in capturing a mood or the feel of particular places. In some ways what I find most important about Leopold -and what I point out to my "eco-fundamentalist" students- is here is someone who celebrated nature more eloquently than any other professional biologist that I have read, and yet here also is someone who never went out without his gun. In this sad age where "sportsmen" and "environmentalists" are too often on opposite sides of the same issue, it is important to reflect on an age when one could be both....more info
  • "The man who cannot enjoy his leisure is ignorant...
    ...though his degrees exhaust an alphabet,..." is one of Leopold's sentiments concerning the deadening power of a formal education. He was one of those men who was never bored; always engaged with his natural surroundings, filled with a sense of wonder. He was fortunate to develop an appreciation of it at an early age. As he said: "This much at least is sure: my earliest impressions of wildlife and its pursuit retain a vivid sharpness of form, color, and atmosphere that half a century of professional wildlife experience has failed to obliterate or to improve upon." Aldo Leopold was one of the great American environmentalists, in the class with Thoreau, Muir and Abby. This book was his classic "cri de coeur," and it reads as fresh today as when it was first published, well over a half century ago.

    In the `60's I was an avid reader of a weekly column on seasonal changes in nature by Joseph Wood Krutch in the New York Times. The first half of A Sand County Almanac is written in the same style; in Leopold's case it is the monthly changes in nature. At the same time he chides all of us for failing to observe what is apparent all around, if we will only take the time to observe. For example, he says that: "... I once knew an educated lady, banded by Phi Beta Kappa, who told me that she had never heard or seen the geese that twice a year proclaim the revolving seasons to her well-insulated roof." Later he observes that over 100,000 cars pass a given spot each year, and although all have `taken' (his quotes) history, and perhaps a quarter have `taken' botany, yet almost none have noticed the demise of Silphium along the road side.

    In the second half of the book he frames environmental issues, and provides healthy philosophical perspective. Another profession that he rebukes are economists, who, famously, per Oscar Wilde, all too often "know the cost of everything, and the value of nothing." In terms of the Sand Counties of his Wisconsin he says: "Thus economists must find free range somewhere for their pet aspersions, such as submarginality, regression, and institutional rigidity. Within the ample reaches of the Sand Counties these economic terms of reproach find beneficial exercise, free pasturage, and immunity from the gadflies of critical rebuttal."

    The final chapters, on the value of wilderness for the soul, and the nurturing of a conservation esthetic remain essential statements on how humankind should relate to their natural surroundings. He makes a key point about "outdoor recreation," and its mixed impact on nature. Fortunately his life was more than one of contemplation. He engaged the political process in a meaningful way, and one of his valuable legacies is the creation of the largest essentially pristine area in the lower 48 states, an area that partially bears his name, coupled with the adjacent Gila Wilderness, here in South Central New Mexico. He was the catalyst for a Congressional Act in 1924 that designated this area as a natural preserve, the first in the country. It remains a constant source of enjoyment for my family, approaching now, a century later.

    This book is a most valuable polemic, a "Common Sense" of the natural world, an essential read in any school, or better yet, after, to overcome some of the deadening influences.
    ...more info
  • Superb and thoughtful writing by a noted conservationist
    If you have ever loved a wild place, or a secret place, or a place which calmed and sheltered you from the hustle of modern life, you must read Aldo Leopold's classic "A Sand County Almanac." Leopold, a noted conservationist, puts forth a sort of collection of musings, essays, arguments, and general thoughts on anything and everything having to do with nature. He covers water conservation, the migration of seeds and spores, hunting, the crumbling of a tree into loam from which another tree will eventually grow. At his very best, Leopold raises both the level of discourse and the level of writing to something that can stand with the finest literature:

    "Within a few weeks now, Draba, the smallest flower that blows, will sprinkle every sandy place with small blooms. He who hopes for spring with upturned eye will never see so small a thing as Draba. He who despairs of spring with downcast eye steps on it, unknowing. He who searches for spring with his knees in the mud finds it, in abundance. Draba asks, and gets, but scant allowance of warmth and comfort; it subsists on the leavings of unwanted time and space. Botany books give it two or three lines, but never a plate or portrait. Sand too poor and sun too weak for bigger, better blooms are good enough for Draba. After all, it is no spring flower, but only a postscript to a hope."

    When Leopold can describe a tiny nothing of a plant with such delicacy, beauty, and restraint, you know that you are reading the work of a rare and informed writer. I could quote from the book forever, as the gorgeous passages are many, but I urge you to read it yourself instead and discover an enduring voice in defense of the American wilderness....more info

  • A book for every season
    Aldo Leopold's book of essays is a good one to pull out every month and remark on the change of seasons, the month gone by and the one to come. It will plant you as firmly on the sandy plains of Adams County, Wisconsin, watching the bright red blackberry bushes in the morning sun, as any text you will ever see....more info
  • Sand County Almanac
    This classic by conservation prophet Aldo Leopold still reaches the casual environmentalist. Leopold inspires all who read this book to take better care of the ecosystem that humans are a part of, not contollers of....more info
  • The anchor volume of an American conservation bookshelf
    The definitive anchor volume on the bookshelf of modern American conservation. Leopold presents the big picture, painted as many small scenes. Again and again, I return to the February essay, "Good Oak," a classic of natural history writing. Leopold is a natural historian of the old school.

    If recycling or climate change or energy has brought you into the conservation movement, this is the first book to read to get grounded in conservation from the ecological perspective. For those coming in from the animal rights movement, here is a book to help make sense of the consumptive side of conservation. For everyone else - here are nature writings from a man well-rounded in both his consumptive use and his appreciation of the landscape that may help explain where we conservationists are coming from....more info
  • a book for meditation. . .
    I had to read a science book for English class, and I wasn't the most thrilled. Reading the first parts of A Sand County Almanac, I wasn't sure if I was going to finish reading it, because I found his intense love for nature a bit extreme; however, as I continued reading, I found it very thought-provoking -- comparable to Thoreau -- and made me appreciate nature and its wonder. ...more info
  • Breathtaking Book!
    If you're looking for a Holiday gift, look no further! A Sand County Almanac, re-photographed by Michael Sewell, is a nature-lover's gem. I've seen earlier versions of A Sand County Almanac, both with sketches and photos (done in the 70's), and neither compares to this new edition. The photos are spectatular, and unlike earlier versions of the book, the explanations of the wildlife are captured by the photos. It's as if poetry is both literal and visual and unite to form a complete whole, giving the reader vivid clarity into Leopold's descriptions. This is a must-see for nature-lovers and Holiday shoppers alike! I know it's on my Holiday shopping list!...more info
  • Fantastic book!
    If I had to make a must read list of books, this would be in the top ten. Aldo Leopold has such a mastery of language, and such an important perspective, it can not be passed on. He shows us what we have lost, what we still have, and points us in the necessary direction to heal. I found this book to be both liberating and an affirmation to thoughts I have always had, but could never articulate so beautifully....more info
  • A Sand County Almanac Review
    I read A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. I liked this book because it beautifully describes Leopold's extensive farm, and its plants, animals and seasons, in Sand Country, WI over 60 years ago. This book has no specific plot, rather it is like a diary that tells us about Aldo's life on the farm year-round. It is incredibly detailed, Leopold sometimes writes for several pages about one specific type of flower or tree. The fields of science that this most relates to are observational (field) ecology and biology. This is because Leopold doesn't experiment in a lab setting or set up experiments on his farm, instead he walks around and observes, and therefore draws conclusions from these observations. The characters in Leopold's book are himself, his dog, and all the hundreds and thousands of animals and plants on his farm, which he often anthropomorphizes. This book is factual, as everything he says actually happened, but it also has elements of fiction because Leopold anthropomorphizes the animals and plants he observes and often gives them personalities and tells stories about them. The book's conclusions, I think, are to enjoy nature and preserve it. Leopold loves to be outdoors, and his book recommends the same thing: to get outside, walk around, and enjoy the beauty all around you. This book also emphasizes that we need to protect and preserve nature, because if we don't care for the environment now, there will be nothing left for future generations. This is especially important to remember today, because of the world's vast global and environmental problems. This is a beautifully written, interesting book that I would recommend to anyone who likes to be outdoors....more info
  • A book for every season
    Aldo Leopold's book of essays is a good one to pull out every month and remark on the change of seasons, the month gone by and the one to come. It will plant you as firmly on the sandy plains of Adams County, Wisconsin, watching the bright red blackberry bushes in the morning sun, as any text you will ever see....more info
  • Sustainable Wisdom
    My introduction to Aldo Leopold's words, reverberating within the covers of A Sand County Almanac, was at the age

    of 5 on the earthy beat of my mother's voice. The message, though above my 5-years ability to comprehend, tolled

    deep within. To this day I can still recall the imagery flowing across my imaginary stage as mom read the recounting

    of Leopolds perceptive observations. Even though at 5 I'd never seen a wild goose, deer or turkey in my home

    woods; and had never heard anyone talk of them there; I knew with a ferver, that they could be in my woods: they

    should be in my home woods. I knew I would look for them there as well.


    My first 'personal read' of A Sand County Almanac, was from that same book, checked out from the Library where my

    mom worked. Even though I'd heard the words several times before, each page was a new adventure. But much more

    than the adventure I felt when reading the adventure stories I'd read from time-to-time on the 'kids' shelves'. This

    adventure was happening in a very real world; my world. That adventure went with me every day as I shuffled among

    the leaves, branches, rocks and soil in my home woods; as I stealthly searched under rocks, in the riffles and holes of

    my home waters.


    Though I read of Leopold's observations in Wisconsin, Arizona, Illinois, Missouri and other places, I saw each of them

    in my home woods; along the banks of my home creek; among the fields of my home wanderings.


    Leopold's words did not become my words ... no, they inspired my innermost heartbeat to rise to the surface where

    in time I developed my own 'home words'. Those are the same words that guide me to this very day.


    This book is much more than a collection of words from a wise man. A Sand County Almanac is an inspired text.

    Inspired by a time far removed from where our society stands today. Written by a man with a clear-eyed vision of

    the future; from wisdom, born of knowledge and understanding on how to attain a better future; above the usual

    human frailty. All said, in simple, clear, humble tones that beckon you to listen; to learn; to understand; to wisely

    apply: to pass on. Leopold was a scientiest with a wonderous command for the ability to put his thoughts in the more

    peaceable tones ... even when those words are meant as stern, hard-hitting corrections.


    In essence, A Sand County Almanac is one of those rare pieces of literature that promotes the finest form of

    sustainability: natural wisdom.


    A Sand County Almanac is a must read for all people; of all ages; for all times. It is timeless and so is our human need to

    hear it's timeless message. Read it often. Read it to others. Pass on the wisdom found within its pages.


    Leopold would be the first to tell you, the book is not about him; it's far more important than a mere man. The book is

    about peaceful coexistence with ourselves and all that encompasses life on this magnificent planet. A Sand County

    Almanac is a guidebook to attaining a balanced life ... with all life, on earth....more info
  • PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE OF THIS BOOK
    I am a long time student of Leopold's Sand County Almanac. I am also fortunate to have Michael Sewell, the photographer of October 2001 edition, as a friend. I witnessed the dedication and the results produced by his efforts. Michael closely researched the places talked about by Leopold and photographed them in a way that deepens the experience and the understanding of the reader of Sand County. Ken Brower, son of David Brower, provides a wonderful introduction. Together, Sewell and Brower have honored the fact that this is Leopold's journey and message for all of us. I'm certain this will be the edition that stands the test of time....more info
  • What else could be said?
    How can one review something so brilliantly written? One can only say thank you to an author and person we lost much too early. American's need someone like Aldo Leopold again. Just when we had another brilliant soul, named Rachel Carson we too lost her. We have lost our way and desperatly need the likes of Leopold again before we pave everything, pollute the water and darken the sky. Maybe someone will appear as they have before, like Muir, Leopold and Carson; we can only hope. This book is a must!...more info
  • A Treat
    What a treat! This book is a wonderful adventure into place and season. The prose and photos provide a vivid sense of the spirit of the country. I will keep this book close by to journey into often. It will make a great gift book as well....more info
  • To keep every cog and wheel ...
    I have read this book again - and it's even better the second time around. If anyone is remotely interested in the "man vs. nature" debate - this book is a must read. "The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: 'What good is it?' If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering."...more info
  • I Really Enjoyed This Book!
    Sand County Almanac has always been one of my favorite environmental books, but this new edition is by far the best. Sewell's photos match Leopold's writing so perfectly that you feel like you're right there on the farm. The new introduction by Kenneth Brower gives lots of interesting information about how this edition was created. The design is clean and makes for easy reading. I would highly recommend this book, especially for those new to Leopold's writing and those who appreciate beautiful visuals!...more info
  • Nature, the best
    If you love the steady and incredible look of nature to your eyes, just wait until you read nature in words. Leopolds skill is amazing. You must have some concentration to read this book, but its truley takes the shap of nature, wth levels, images, surprises and lessons.....more info
  • A Sand County Almanac
    This is a beautifully written and insightful book. Loepold shows his reader his life and views. This is a MUST READ for anyone who loves the natural world though it may be a little too "hard core" for the average metropolitan citizen.
    The only thing I really have to say is that I LOVE THIS BOOK!...more info
  • Holy Writ for the Land Manager
    If the place and the creature are textbook and teacher, Aldo Leopold is the dean of the college. Leopold never ceases to astound me with his ability to convey a sense of place in his magnificent work. A Sand County Almanac takes the reader on a vivid and thought provoking tour of what was, what is, and what might become in the Sand Counties of Wisconsin. Leopold fills the book with advice and direction to the budding naturalist on how to observe, what to do with observations, and how to properly manage land. It is a very enjoyable story that the reader will return to again and again....more info
  • A lazy enjoyable read for the learning environmetalist
    This book was a very enjoyable read. It made many strong environment point by incoperating them into lazy stories of Aldo's outdoor experinces. Environmentally the writer was a mastermind tha made theories about nature that people did not except until years later. This book is great for someone who wants an enjoyable read and wants to learn about environmentalism. On the downside it is not very structured and goes from one random thought to another. Then agian that is one of its charms. The writer does not force ideas upon you in this book. He writes with compassion not anger. This book is great and I recommend it...more info
  • Leaving a light footprint on the good earth
    I re-read Leopold's Sand County Almanac every couple of years or so. It's not just a beautifully poetic celebration of the land. Its defense of a new sense of moral responsibility to the environment, spelled out in the book's "The Land Ethic," is a bracing tonic against the modern temptation to take the biosphere for granted. In these days of global warming, fossil fuel depletion, and escalating degradation of the land, water, and atmosphere, Leopold's 60-year-old plea for a new environmental ethic is both prophetic and urgently immediate.

    In "The Land Ethic," Leopold argues for a new understanding of the moral community. Earlier ethical models focused on interpersonal and social relationships between humans. But given the interconnectedness of all members of the biosphere, we need to extend the moral community to include earth, sky, water, and all species--the biota. At least since the dawn of the modern age, human have tended to prize the biota only in terms of what we could get out of it. It had a purely economic, utilitarian value. But this way of thinking has resulted in environmental (not to mention economic and political) crisis.

    What we must do now, argues Leopold, is to recognize our "vital" relationship to the biota, acknowledging that the well-being of our species is intimately connected to the well-being of the whole. This calls for a new standard of valuation that runs counter to the older, economic model. "Quit thinking about decent land-use as solely an economic problem," writes Leopold. "Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and esthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient." And if we do that, he concludes, we'll adopt the following ethical principle: "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise" (p. 262). And part of what this means is that humans should strive to leave relatively light footprints on the earth, because the lighter our impact, the more likely the biota can successfully readjust to maintain integrity, stability, and beauty.

    Good, important advice. ...more info
  • A must read
    A beautifully written account of Aldo Leopold's awakening to an environmental consciousness....more info
  • Illuminated Manuscript
    Aldo Leopold's timeless prose is illuminated in this fantastic coffee table edition celebrating the 50 year anniversary of publication. The photos follow the text and give light and meaning to this defining work of the modern ecological movement. The reader is brought directly into Sand County and shares Leopold's vision as to how a landscape can be healed and brought back into harmony when man's stewardship of the earth is encouraged. The additional essays on the environment by Ken Brower, son of Sierra Club founder David Brower, is icing on the cake! The perfect gift for my teenage son before he left for college....more info
  • The things we have forgotten
    The best recommendation I can find for this book comes from another (one star) anti-review - entitled "Nature Lovers Only":

    "This book has no value to the everyday person"

    The reviewer is one of those everyday persons, a person who has become utterly disconnected from the land, and the ecosystem from which she has emerged. Leopold's book is about nature as experienced by those who live in it - not by those who see it from a car, or on the Discovery Channel. If you are an every day person, living in a suburban box, enjoying nature in officially sanctioned parks (closed at 11pm of course), fogging the area with Raid so that you can eat your macaroni salad, then you will not enjoy this book.

    If, like me, you are trapped in this suburban nightmare, and have this feeling that something is TERRIBLY wrong, then this book will help you to understand WHY you feel so miserable: We live on a planet, and share the planet with an enormous, pervasive ecosystem of plants and animals - kept only temporarily at bay by our sheetrock and asphalt barriers. Leopold describes this world with stunning insight derived from a near infinite patience in the observation of the natural world. He goes out on his walks and expeditions into a slightly younger America, and reports back on the world as it is - the world "out there" - in a way that few have done before or since. Read this book and step out of your "every day person" life. No walk in the woods will ever be the same again!...more info

  • book revisited
    except for about 3 missprinted words in this book,it is just as good a read as it was for me in high school.A true conservation and nature classic....more info
  • The Ballantine version is censored
    I would give the actual ORIGINAL version of the text a 5 star rating, and indeed do so for the Oxford University Press edition. That version is slightly more expensive in Paperback, but has a better introduction and, more importantly, is actually printed as originally written by Leopold. The Ballantine version has been censored by the publisher to remove several sentences which either explcitly use the word "evolution" or which imply it.

    Granted, these are only a few sentences out of the entire book. But it makes this work something other than the work which is seminal in the field of environmental philosophy and naturalism, and such censorship is intrinsically objectionable-note also that the publisher nowhere in this book tells you that such alterations have been made nor is this version described as an abridged or edited version. Further, this change makes this version unacceptable for use in teaching science courses where censorship because of ideology or market share is beyond the pale.

    If you find any hint of evolution to be distracting (for one reason or another) from the fine naturalistic writing in which Leopold engages (evolution is not central to his argument or description), or are too cash-strapped to shell out an extra few bucks for the OUP edition or something at your local used book store or don't have the time to go to the library, by all means purchase this version. It is similar in most ways to Leopold's written work. But this is not to be mistaken for that work in its entirety. ...more info
  • Gorgeous
    While Leopold's writing in A Sand County Almanac is timeless, Sewell's photograhs and Brower's introduction provide valuable context for this classic. I will be giving this gorgeous new volume to my fellow Leopold admirers as well as those friends and family I have been trying to get to read Leopold for years. It won't disappoint!...more info
  • Galaxy (Oxford) edition is worth the extra money
    This review does not relate directly to the information in the book which has been discussed in detail in many excellent reviews. This book is truly for the person who loves the outdoors and is in itself 5 stars
    My comments relate to the quality of the materials and format of the book. A good friend of mine gives this book to many of his friends so that they can become more aware of the environment and world around them. I thought that this was a great idea since we are so busy with HDTV, IPODS, Blackberrys and cell phones. I purchased one copy of the Galaxy (Oxford)publication and several of the Ballantine. There is no comparison. The Ballantine is a typical, cheap paperback. The Galaxy (White cover with Geese) is much nicer and makes a much better gift. It is definitely worth the extra money. When one considers the information deleted from the Ballantine edition (see review by Reiheld), it makes the argument even more compelling. My final comments --enjoy the reading, but spend the extra dollar or so and really enjoy the book. ...more info
  • Captivating and Timeless...
    A book which echos in any environmentalist's heart, pictures of prose which tug at any true conservationist's soul... I first began this book the first weekend of July, 1991, and have read and re-read bits and pieces of it many times since... The words delighted me so, the style was so endearing, I read some of this book aloud on the phone at midnight to a dear friend who was a night-owl and had the patience to hear me out, the kindness to listen, and the good appreciation of fine writing to like what he heard. It will always be a special book, and always, one of my favorites......more info
  • Aldo Leopold's Land Ethic
    "A Sand County Almanac - and Sketches Here and There" by Aldo Leopold is divided into three sections. The first, "The Delights and Dilemmas of a Sand County Almanac" give us a month by month account of his depleted WI sand farm, which he is attempting to rehabilitate. These personal essays, odes to seasonal events, are often compared to Thoreau's "Walden". Part II or "Sketches Here and There" is an eclectic collection of personal ruminations. Part III, "The Upshot" addresses social and political issues affecting our environment.

    The Chapters in Part I are arranged month by month. For example, "February - Good Oak" is an ode to an eighty-year-old oak, felled by lightning. He reads each ring of the tree as if a chapter in a book, highlighted by events from the era's conservational history. Throughout the years, progress is countered with setbacks; more stringent environmental regulations are juxtaposed with tragic extinctions.

    "March - The Geese Return" is marked by the northward migration of the Canadian goose, whose migratory path is a testimony of "the unity of nations". Unlike other critters who can retreat into their lair if the land is still frozen, the arrival of the goose "carries the conviction of a prophet who has burned his bridges". Using his keen observation, Leopold educates us about natural and animal behavior. For example, the flight of the goose during fall hunting season is high and silent, whereas in the spring they fly loud and low, a raucous convention. Also, flocks comprise families, or groups of families, which is why they are often found in aggregates of six.

    The essays in Part III, published after his death in 1949 address the questions we are wrestling with today. Topics include "Conservation Esthetic," "Wildlife in American Culture," "Wilderness," and the compelling "Land Ethic" which tries to replace a sense of entitlement with one of obligation.

    "The Land Ethic" begins with a tale of injustice that highlights the despotic practice of slavery in ancient Greece. His point is that although we have evolved in our treatment of one another, in terms of land management, we are still ignorant of the injustice wreaked upon our landscape. Currently ethics deals with man's relationship with society and with one another, but still there is "no ethic dealing with man's relationship to the land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it". Ethics forces us to view ourselves as a community of interdependent parts. Leopold simply asks us to enlarge our view of that community to include the biota - the soil, rocks, trees, and animals living around us.

    Leopold laments that landowners act as if it is their right to extract as much from their land as possible. Such extraction may exhaust the soil, cause erosion and flooding, deplete the area of natural beauty and wildlife, and sully the common stream with silt, but because there is not ethic dealing with the treatment of the land, such an individual can still be hailed as a pillar of society. Leopold notes that obligations over self-interest are taken for granted when it comes to building roads, schools, and churches; but without a commonly held land ethic, water quality, biodiversity, and natural aesthetics are not a part of the public discourse, as land use is wholly governed by economic self-interest....more info

  • Like a mountain.
    The "Almanac" has been published several ways during the past fifty years, I strongly recommend the book published by Oxford University Press. It includes Thinking like a Mountain, The Land Ethic, and other important essays.
    From Leopold's Sketches: "Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language."
    Scientist, educator, forester, philosopher, writer -- Aldo Leopold appears to many as something of an enigma. In his earlier writings, Leopold was a very different man than we find in this volume. In Leopold's own words: "I was young then, and full or trigger-itch." This insightful classic is a gentle, scholarly, fatherly collection of essays, observations and stories. Like Thoreau's Walden, it is revered, loved and widely imitated. Leopold: "Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf. ... The cowman who cleans his range of wolves does not realize that he is taking over the wolf's job of trimming the herd to fit the range. He has not learned to think like a mountain. Hence we have ... rivers washing the future into the sea."...more info
  • Simply the best
    Aldo Leopold wrote these famous words: "There are those of us who can live without wild things and those of us who cannot." For those of you who cannot, this is your book. Aldo Leopold was a great man like a great old tree, with roots anchored down to earth and an intellect branching out towards new ways of thinking and looking at the world. The combination results in keen observations highlighted by elegant prose. I usually can't read too far into this book without getting a lump in my throat....more info
  • Warning: Reading this book in public may cause you to do strange things.
    Unless you normally tap strangers on the shoulder and say, "Listen to this!" consider yourself forewarned. I have twice read A Sand County Almanac in public places and both times have found myself looking up, hoping to make eye contact with someone who might be amenable to my reading them sections of this book.

    It is beautiful, it is transporting, it is inspiring.

    ...more info
  • A World Classic - Required Reading
    Long considered the first book on conservation, this should be read by everyone. The author's love of land, wildlife and nature are fully expressed. Those thoughts are followed by philosophizing on conservation - ethics, practice, economics, etc. Written in the nascent stages of conservation in this country, a time when it was more thought than practice, the issues still resonate today. One sees the difficulties both in expanding environmental conservation as well as the pitfalls and errors made in the area (with all good intent) since the forties when Leopald wrote.
    Portions of this were assigned when I was in college. Now, 28 years later, the entirety means much more. It should be required reading for everyone, especially lovers of the outdoors....more info
  • It is a wonderful book. I love it so much.
    This book is a new edition with hundreds of pictures in it. Though it costed me about twice as much as the plain-text version, it definately worths it. I would not have known what a "draba" looks like had there not been a picture right next to the words, showing the little tiny plant dancing in the wind. I just love it....more info
  • THE Conservation/outdoors Classic
    Long considered the first book on conservation, this should be read by everyone. The author's love of land, wildlife and nature are fully expressed. Those thoughts are followed by philosophizing on conservation - ethics, practice, economics, etc. Written in the nascent stages of conservation in this country, a time when it was more thought than practice, the issues still resonate today. One sees the difficulties both in expanding environmental conservation as well as the pitfalls and errors made in the area (with all good intent) since the forties when Leopald wrote.

    Interestingly, especially to me as someone who hunts, much is written in the context of hunting. He also has some insightful words about why people do hunt as a connection to nature. As only a hunter can, he identifies the hunter's reverance for the land and nature.

    Portions of this were assigned when I was in college. Now, 28 years later, the entirety means much more. It should be required reading for everyone, especially lovers of the outdoors....more info

  • Frankly, I was disappointed
    I expected a book that would move me emotionally as well as intellectually, like Abby's Desert Solitude. That's not what this book is all about. It is well written, yes, but it only shoots for the intellect, not the heart, or at least it did for me. It is still an important read....more info
  • Stunning
    Photographer Michael Sewell brings Leopold's words to life and captures the stunning natural beauty of Wisconsin for readers everywhere. This is a must have for all Leopold enthusiasts and a great way to introduce new readers to his insights and inspiration....more info
  • Classic
    A classic. As we rush into brave new environmental worlds where angels fear to tread, and as our kids grow up plugged in rather than playing in the dirt, this should be required reading in all schools (and required for the parents, too). Besides presenting a compelling and important argument, it's also a very good book....more info
  • Crucial early conservation writings.
    As I reread this book, I kept finding ideas that were eerily modern. Leopold talked of preserving Arctic areas. He talked of roadless wilderness. He discussed the ethic of placing nature first, at least some of the time, even if it meant that humans wouldn't see or benefit in any economic way. This work was one of the earliest environmental books, written when there were very few others.

    The first part is a month-by-month account of nature in Wisconsin. Leopold discusses natural history, hunting, land use policy, and other similar aspects throughout a year. Then there are several short essays on various similar subjects.

    Leopold is an adequate author, but it is not his prose that sets him apart. (This is the reason for 3 stars) His ideas are profound and influential. Reading this book now will not seem as exciting as reading it 40 years ago when his ideas were not as generally accepted.

    Another criticism is that Leopold seems rather full of himself. Conservation and land ethics had been around for quite a while by then, and Leopold never mentions Theodore Roosevelt, John Wesley Powell, Gifford Pinchot, or John Muir. Leopold owed a debt to these earlier conservationists that he never acknowledges in this book. Reading the book would leave you believing that all this conservation stuff never crossed any other human's mind until Leopold thought of it.

    This book is not for sitting down and reading all the way through. I suspect that if you do this you will be soon nodding off. But if you read a chapter here and there from time to time, and think about the ideas expressed, you will be well served.

    So, overall, a book of important ideas written in less than exciting form.

    ...more info
  • Spectacular!
    This was truly a visual treat. The book was laid out with a beautiful flow of text and photographs. The photographs were awesome and really brought to life and enhanced the words of Aldo Leopold. This is a book I will joyfully share with others. A perfect Holiday Gift!...more info

 

 
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