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A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
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A Sand County Almanac (1949)

by Aldo Leopold

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,380None2,617 (4.27)59
  1. 40
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  2. 40
    Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey (coclimber)
    coclimber: Although Abbey writes with an undertone of harshness at times, his love of the desert environment and ability to bring you into that world are a delight to anyone who loves our natural world.
  3. 63
    Aldo Leopold's Southwest by David E. Brown (lorax)
    lorax: A collection of some of Leopold's earlier writings; it's very interesting to see his "land ethic" evolve over time.
  4. 20
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  5. 00
    Waiting for Coyote's Call: An Eco-memoir from the Missouri River Bluff by Jerry Wilson (WildMaggie)
  6. 00
    The River Why by David James Duncan (Benbreep)
    Benbreep: My favorite novel, environmental themes, equally fantastic writing.
  7. 00
    The voice of the desert : a naturalist's interpretation by Joseph Wood Krutch (owen1218)
  8. 00
    Wild Harmony: Animals of the North by William O. Pruitt Jr. (thesmellofbooks)
    thesmellofbooks: Two carefully observed and elegantly written volumes on a particular segment of nature. Sand County, and the Canadian taiga.
  9. 02
    A Small Furry Prayer: Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life by Steven Kotler (PaperbackPirate)
    PaperbackPirate: Aldo Leopold is referenced several times in this book.
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» See also 59 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
I am still lingering over the last few pages of this, but I don't need to completely finish it in order to tell you how amazing it is. Aldo writes so purely about the wilderness, about birds and wildlife, and how much they mean to him and how important responsible conservation should be in our society. When I opened this and read the first few pages, it was like reading so many of my own thoughts printed out in front of me, from his eloquently described personal experiences in nature to his more philosophical thoughts and beliefs. I cringe when I think back to my undergraduate days as a wildlife science major, and remember our one teacher (also my advisor) who told us this was his favorite book and required us to read it, at which point we all groaned and complained about how boring it was and how could this boring old book have any relevance anymore. Ah, the folly of youth, right?! How my path has diverged and come full circle once again! This book never lost its relevance, and reading it now, I practically cried when he bemoans habitat loss in the 1940s, when the situation today is so far beyond dire it's practically hopeless. Unlike my overly emotional reaction, though, Leopold maintain a staid, yet wistful and reluctant pragmatism toward it all, as if he knows it's inevitable what humans will do when left unchecked. He understands that, in the end, economics is always likely to drive the bottom line when it comes to land use, even as he argues for a more holistic view. I am sure that I will be returning to this many more times in the future. ( )
  S.D. | Apr 4, 2014 |
Slow, thoughtful book of nature writing, with some wonderfully-detailed observations about the animals and plants Leopold sees on his farm in Wisconsin. The writing is good, but has a bit of an archaic feel. His love for and knowledge of the natural world really shines through. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 4, 2014 |
"Timeless" is an understatement. Around page 40 I decided that this was one of my favorite books ever. It was the passage on the geese I think, when he was speculating on their behavior and basically gave it up as something unknowable to mere humans. Everything I read was so beautiful and poetic, and it all conveyed such a love for nature and the land that it was really quite breathtaking. It is the closest thing to poetry that I've ever seen in non-fiction -- I would even go so far as to call it poetry of a sort.

And apart from Leopold's disarming style, the sheer scope of his natural knowledge is quite simply incredible. Leopold doesn't have to specifically elucidate his love for nature, because the fact that he knows the names of all the birds, flowers and trees (among other things) proves implicitly his adulation. Only thousands (millions?) of man-hours spent joyously and patiently outdoors could account for such a proficiency.

The 2nd and 3rd sections of the book do not ultimately sustain the magnificense of the titular "Sand County Alamanac," but it's hard to fault a book too much for not maintaining a state of perfect splendour. Both latter sections are still well worth reading. One of my favorite qualities of the first part is that it is entirely apolitical. Leopold doesn't have to come out directly and scold us for our misuse and destruction of the enviroment, because his simple devotion is by far the more effective chastisement. The 2nd and 3rd parts do become more explicitly critical of modern civilization, but it's never over the top. Indeed, it provides the reader with an entirely new way to appreciate his writing: as ideas decades ahead of their time. The fact that he was writing about the desperate need for conservation in the 30s and 40s is astounding. Leopold makes "youngsters" like Edward Abbey look like a hack. He is my hero. ( )
1 vote blake.rosser | Jul 28, 2013 |
Almanac & Sketches are basically fluff; the heart of the bookand its lasting influence stand in the four essays
  FKarr | Apr 6, 2013 |
A classic! Read in college for "A History of the Environment" and reread this year ( )
  PamBurch | Jan 29, 2012 |
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There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. (Forward)
Each year, after the midwinter blizzards, there comes a night of thaw, when the tinkle of dripping water is heard in the land.
Quotations
To me an ancient cottonwood is the greatest of trees because in his youth he shaded the buffalo and wore a halo of pigeons, and I like a young cottonwood because he may some day become ancient.
But all conservation of wildness is self-defeating, for to cherish we must see and fondle, and when enough have seen and fondled, there is no wilderness left to cherish.
To see America as history, to conceive of destiny as a becoming, to smell a hickory tree through the lapse of ages--all these things are possible for us, and to achieve them takes only the free sky, and the will to ply our wings. In these things, and not in Mr. Bush's bombs and Mr. DuPont's nylons, lies objective evidence of our superiority over the beasts.
Despite several opportunities to do so, I have never returned to the White Mountains. I prefer not to see what tourists, roads, sawmills, and logging railroads have done for it, or to it. I hear young people, not yet born when I first rode out 'on top,' exclaim about it as a wonderful place. To this, with an unspoken mental reservation, I agree.
It is a century now since Darwin gave us the first glimpse of the origin of the species. We know now what was unknown to all the preceding caravan of generations: that men are only fellow-voyagers with other creatures in the odyssey of this time, a sense of kinship with fellow-creatures; a wish to live and let live; a sense of wonder over the magnitude and duration of the biotic enterprise. Above all we should, in the century since Darwin, have come to know man, while now captain of the adventuring ship, is hardly the sole object of its quest, and that his prior assumptions to this effect arose from the simple necessity of whistling in the dark.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345345053, Mass Market Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:28 -0400)

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Presents a collection of nature writings by Aldo Leopold, one of the foremost conservationists of the early twentieth century.

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