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A Sand County Almanac: With Essays on Conservation Hardcover – Illustrated, November 15, 2001
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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.
"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...will attract fans and newcomers and will make a great gift book this holiday season."--Publishers Weekly
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This fine fellow also scouted locations for timber companies. “Hey, it was a long time ago,” he might have said, but doesn’t. He’s unapologetic for any of this stuff, very saintly about it in fact. He bands tons of chickadees, catches them constantly. All this bird-banding is even more out of hand today: it’s grotesque and rarely necessary. A power trip.
He talks of “Round River”, cycles, erosion problems: all good points and ahead of their time, but he’s already lost me. Mentions “thrills” of hunting. Then, I kid you not, he implies that non-hunters aren’t nature lovers. Up yours, Leopold. He mentions organic farming, is begrudgingly positive but hints that it’s “cultish”. Hates “tourist roads” (but not logging roads?). Quote near conclusion: “Trophy hunting is... nothing to apologize for” (because it’s youthful instinct or some such nonsense). Lots of gentle nature-loving prose, cuddly wise-old-grandpa stuff, sprinkled liberally with murdered wildlife.
I don’t care if it was a “different time”, this kind of acceptance of thrill-killing of wildlife is still going on and I for one will not pretend that it’s OK with me. I know I’m a “voice in the wilderness” in my disgust with this book, but I’m sick to death of seeing it absurdly over-praised.
"The other members of the fauna in which he originated are long since entombed within the hills. When we hear his call we hear no mere bird. We hear the trumpet in the orchestra of evolution. He is the symbol of our untamable past, of that incredible sweep of millennia which underlies and conditions the daily affairs of birds and men."
However in this edition, the sentence "We hear the trumpet in the orchestra of evolution" is absent.
Aldo Leopold is one of my personal heroes and Sand County Almanac is one of the finest pieces of environmental and philosophic writing. However, I'd suggest buying a different edition.
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.
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Beautifully written classic.Read more