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

Aldo Leopold
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 1 1968 0195007778 978-0195007770 Second Edition
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 Pilgrim 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.

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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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

These original essays on the natural environment by renowned conservationist Leopold (1887-1948) were first published posthumously in 1949. In this edition, more than 80 lush photographs shot by nature photographer Sewell on Leopold's former Wisconsin farm accompany the text. Following the seasons, Leopold, whose seminal work in the U.S. Forest Service and in books and magazines helped shape the conservation movement in this country, shared his perceptive and carefully observed portraits of nature month by month. In April, he watched the "sky dance" of the woodcock, who flew upward in a series of spirals. As he hunted partridges in October, his way was lit by "red lanterns," the blackberry leaves that shone in the sun. A November rumination details how the products of tree diseases provide wooded shelters for woodpeckers, hives for wild bees and food for chickadees. Included also is an appreciative essay on wild marshland and several pieces stressing the importance of protecting the natural environment. Leopold sadly observed, "there is yet no ethic dealing with man's relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it." His hope that society would develop an "ecological conscience" by placing what should be preserved above what is economically expedient remains relevant today. These evocative essays about the farm Leopold loved will again be enjoyed by nature lovers and preservationists alike. Though the book has been continuously in print, this beautiful illustrated edition, with its introduction by nature writer Brower (The Starship and the Canoe) will attract fans and newcomers and will make a great gift book this holiday season.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Each year, after the midwinter blizzards, there comes a night of thaw when the tinkle of dripping water is heard in the land. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The things we have forgotten April 8 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sand County Almanac Review Dec 1 2001
By Caitlin
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Environmental Classic Jan. 20 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Aldo Leopold summarizes many environmental movements within this compilation of essays. The Sand County Almanac was one of those university-assigned books that I could not part with and still have today. A must read if you are interesed in the mind of the Wisconsin borne man who set aside the first designated wilderness in New Mexico.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE Conservation/outdoors Classic Dec 11 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
ok
Published 5 days ago by Hui Yun
5.0 out of 5 stars Autumn reading list
Leopold's classic is an autumn reading ritual for me. His personification of animals - and 'animification' of people - is so touching, so powerful.
Published 1 month ago by Scott H. Goodman
5.0 out of 5 stars marvelously humiliating
Leopold is so perceptive that reading him makes me feel completely oblivious. In his utterly non-compartmentalized awareness, all the wildflowers, bugs or birds have names and... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Brian Griffith
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
I received it quickly :) The quality is acceptable, only found some lines in one page are highlighted. Over all, I am very satisfied with this experience. Thanks the saler a lots! Read more
Published on Feb. 13 2012 by Mia
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
Read Walden, then read Sand County Almanac. They might just change the way you think about the world.
Published on March 24 2004 by Thomas Bonar
4.0 out of 5 stars A poetic journey for the diehard environmentalist
Are you one of those people who actually likes to read Thoreau? Well then you're missing out! Aldo Leopold is sooooo much better. Read more
Published on Feb. 21 2004 by "veggiewrap001"
5.0 out of 5 stars 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. Read more
Published on Nov. 22 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars 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... Read more
Published on Sept. 11 2002 by Catherine S. Vodrey
5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminated Manuscript
Aldo Leopold's timeless prose is illuminated in this fantastic coffee table edition celebrating the 50 year anniversary of publication. Read more
Published on Sept. 6 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars 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. Read more
Published on July 24 2002 by Wesley L. Janssen
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