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A Sand County Almanac (Outdoor Essays & Reflections) Mass Market Paperback – December 12, 1986


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (December 12, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345345053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345345059
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (235 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 the 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.

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Customer Reviews

Anyone who enjoys the outdoors should read this book.
Will J
It is this moral elevation of ecological systems in the Land Ethic that makes Leopold’s Sand County Almanac a classic work in American literature.
Jesse Womack
His descriptions of nature are beautiful and timeless.
citygrl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

310 of 327 people found the following review helpful By Alison Reiheld on June 6, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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68 of 71 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 21, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a profoundly insightful and important book that ranks among the most significant American books of the Twentieth Century. It would be a mistake to describe this book as "nature writing" per se, or of that genre. It is a series of essays in wonderful prose in which nature, outdoor settings or situations provide the backdrop. But it is not written as a naturalist droning about the wonders of some aspect of nature. It is an inspired and deeply insightful description, by a man who clearly has a deep understanding of how nature works, about the ethical dimensions of our relationship with the land and our environment generally. Despite the simple elegance of the writing style, it can be seen (and I know from biographical information) the author draws from a vast experience and knowledge far outside the confines of the wildlife management, which was his professon. The ideas expressed, and the many quotable passages are a treasure trove for anyone interested in broad ideas, not to mention readers whose professions involve recreation, wildlife, natural resources management, the environment, and the teaching of these disciplines as well as ethics, philosophy, and english literature. In sum, this is a must read for virtually anyone who wishes to be familar with important American literature, as well as those with a particular interest in the environment, environmental ethics and philosophy.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By S. Brockett on November 27, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Kindle edition is missing many chapters found in the MM paperback edition (Part III, A Taste For Country is almost entirely missing, and Part IV is combined with a small portion of what part III is in this edition). Since this is a text for class, and a good read besides, I am quite disappointed. Aldo Leopold and the book itself would get a 5 star rating. This edition however, leaves much to be desired.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 9, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Aldo Leopold's brief book is a lyrical and poeitic expression of the passion and reverence that the author had for the natural world. Just a piece of wasteland, an old farm, is transformed for the reader into the magic place it was to Leopold. "...I am glad that I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map." expresses Leopold's wish for the preservation of wild places of solitude where nature abounds. A Sand County Almanac has provided me with a wealth of wonderful quotes for my environment and biology classes.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Wesley L. Janssen VINE VOICE on July 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
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."
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