- Series: A Sand County Almanac
- Mass Market Paperback: 295 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (December 12, 1986)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345345053
- ISBN-13: 978-0345345059
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 554 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
A Sand County Almanac (Outdoor Essays & Reflections) Mass Market Paperback – December 12, 1986
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
“We can place this book on the shelf that holds the writings of Thoreau and John Muir.”—San Francisco Chronicle
From the Publisher
A profoundly affecting work. I first read this in a college ecology class and its a book I return to again and again for mental and spiritual grounding. Simple, beautiful, important and imperative.
Teri Henry, Director of Subsidiary Rights
554 customer reviews
Review this product
Read reviews that mention
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I later spent a few summers fighting mountain fires in Arizona, and then I went on to become a college professor myself, spending over 30 years in Japan teaching everything from biology labs, freshman writing, and public speaking at Temple University Japan, and then an even wider variety of courses in my tenure at Jissen Women's College.
Half a life time later, and half a world away in this digital maze of Tokyo, this is still the book that brings me back to those once clear, star filled skies, the distant splash of a black bass, and a morning cup of coffee around the campfire. This is the book that reminds me — an earth lives beneath my feet, and inspires poetry in anyone who takes the time to slide back into the slippers and boots of Aldo Leopold ... a stylist and thinker for the ages, and a voice that reminds us of not only the importance of a quality life, but also the threats to our sustainability as a species.
I am writing this review only now because I treasure this book so much, I have bought several copies for friends in Japan and China. We are not so different as the media and marketing experts would have us believe.
First, some information about Leopold himself. He was born in Iowa in 1887 and was educated at Yale before joining the Forest Service in 1909, serving in New Mexico and Arizona. He became one of the founders of the Wilderness Society and in 1924 formed the first wilderness in the Forest Service, the Gila National Forest. Then followed a long tenure as a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He writes with the brilliance of a science professor, the passion and soulfulness of a sentimental farm boy, and the messianic zeal of a visionary reformer who sees more deeply into things than most people can.
This book is actually four slim books “welded together”, as the author says. The first part is the month-by-month almanac that that gives this present form of the book its title. The author takes the reader on a dazzlingly observed personal tour of his life and farm in Sand County, Wisconsin and we willingly accompany him on this warm and insightful narrative journey. Here, for example, is a sample of a couple throw-away lines from October: “Lunch over, I regard a phalanx of young tamaracks, their golden lances thrusting skyward. Under each the needles of yesterday fall to earth building a blanket of smoky gold; at the tip of each the bud of tomorrow, preformed, poised, awaits another spring.” He writes feelingly about the death of the last carrier pigeon, the last jaguar in Baja, the last grizzly to be killed in Arizona, his regret to kill a mother wolf and watch as the green light died out in her eyes; each death and each extinction diminishes us profoundly, for we are integrated into a world that we are ourselves diminishing.
The second part of the book “The Quality of Landscape,” is a series of essays about places. The most hauntingly beautiful is “Chihuahua and Sonora,” an amazing report of his canoe voyage with his brother among the channels and lagoons of the Colorado River’s delta in Baja in 1922. Then it was a fabulously rich environment, teeming with wildlife and abundant flora. Now, of course, the great river has been dammed, managed, and consumed by the thirsty and growing populations of the southwest, so much so that the river never even reaches the Gulf of Baja now and all that fabulous world of flora and fauna has vanished. Leopold: “Man always kills the thing he loves, and so we the pioneers have killed our wilderness. Some say we had to. Be that as it may, I am glad 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?” And here is another pellucid throw-away line in the essay “Manitoba”, about swans observed in a marsh: “A flotilla of swans rides the bay in quiet dignity, bemoaning the evanescence of swanly things.” We may all bemoan the evanescence of swanly things.
The third part of the book is called “A Taste for Country” and it comprises a series of essays that are about things and ideas, rather than about places. In it, Leopold declares himself a conservationist. The difference between a conservationist and a preservationist is that the latter emphasizes excluding man from wild places, while a conservationist aims to make wise use of all natural resources, a range of uses that includes wilderness as one important value among many others. Indeed, the very word comes from the Latin verb conservare, which means “to make wise use of.” Here is Leopold: “Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land. By land is meant all of the things on, over, or in the earth. Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say, you cannot love game and hate predators; you cannot conserve the waters and waste the ranges; you cannot build the forest and mine the farm. The land is one organism. Its parts, like our own parts, compete with each other and co-operate with each other.” And then later he adds: “What conservation education must build is an ethical understanding for land economics and a universal curiosity to understand the land mechanism. Conservation may then follow.”
The final part of the book is a section called “The Upshot,” which is Leopold’s attempt to propose an action agenda that is under-pinned with ethics. It reads a bit dated now, having been formulated in the aftermath of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and at the dawn of the conservation era when advocates hardly even had a vocabulary for the new school of policy they were trying to form. And yet in some ways it is still fresh and interesting. Here is Leopold in an essay called “The Land Ethic,” writing about how disputes about conservation always cleave the disputants into two groups: “In all of these cleavages, we see repeated the same basic paradoxes: man the conqueror versus man the biotic citizen; science the sharpener of his sword versus science the searchlight on his universe; land the slave and servant versus land the collective organism.”
Here is a great idea for the curious and open-minded student. Go read Thoreau’s masterpiece Walden (1854); then read Rowland’s Cache Lake Country: Life in the North Woods (1947); finally read Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac. It will be a wonderful voyage of discovery and a first class education in the transcendental ethics of wild America.