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A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  18,621 Ratings  ·  866 Reviews

First published in 1949 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

Paperback, 269 pages
Published 1968 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1949)
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Nov 19, 2009 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How is it possible that I earned a BS in natural resources (and slipping toward an MS in wildlife) without being required to read this book? Aldo Leopold is often called the father of wildlife management. But Sand County Almanac is not a text book, with nary a glossary, set of models, or flow chart within its pages. It does contain some pretty drawings, and some spellbinding imagery. Leopold goes beyond vividly describing a scene of chopping wood or canoeing a river; he pans back to ecological c ...more
Aug 09, 2015 Edward rated it it was amazing

A Sand County Almanac

--January Thaw

--Good Oak

--The Geese Return

--Come High Water
--Bur Oak
--Sky Dance

--Back from the Argentine

--The Alder Fork

--Great Possessions
--Prairie Birthday

--The Green Pasture

--The Choral Copse

--Smoky Gold
--Too Early
--Red Lanterns

--If I Were the Wind
--A Mighty Fortress

--Home Range
--Pines above the Snow

Sketches Here and There

--Marshland Elegy
--The Sand Co
Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty.*


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. The quality of cranes lies, I think, in this higher gamut, as yet beyond the reach of words.

There is nothing, nothing, beyond Aldo Leopold's reach of words. I've read, oh, sixty or seventy books so far this year - some inventive, some incisiv
I've had this book on my shelf for ages and decided to read it today in honor of Earth Day. Writing in 1948, Aldo Leopold was already lamenting the damage to nature and the environment caused by human greed and carelessness in the pursuit of more and bigger. Sadly, I see he died that same year while helping fight a grass fire on a neighboring farm. He was named to the National Wildlife Federation's Conservation Hall of Fame in 1965.

It's a little too cold for reading outside today but the sun is
Feb 01, 2009 Adeline rated it really liked it
Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac is a compelling blend of beautiful depictions of nature, personal opinion and reflection, and political commentary. Leopold extols the beauty of nature and emphasizes how much humans are a part of it. As members of the natural world, humans have a dramatic effect on the environment, and Leopold does not shy away from this issue. Rather than advocate for total preservation of wilderness, Leopold expresses the value of hunting and using the resources present in ...more
Feb 24, 2008 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ecology, non-fiction
Completed shortly before his death in 1948, University of Wisconsin forestry professor Aldo Leopold grants his readers the supreme privilege of seeing nature through the original ecologist's eyes. Leopold was probably not the first to use the term "ecologist", nor the first to be be so branded; surely he was the first to deserve it. Though it may appear a quaint historical piece at first glance, its message is no less potent and relevant in the 21st century: nature, the land, deserves full resp ...more
Jessica McCann
Jan 15, 2014 Jessica McCann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book provided great inspiration and insight for my current novel-in-progress, which has an environmental element.

It was actually published shortly after the author died of a heart attack, in 1949. Leopold's life was cut far too short, and I can't help but wonder how much further America's conservation efforts might have evolved in the past 50 years had he lived longer. Many of his observations and warnings from the early part of the 1900s still ring true today. In that respect, this book wa
Sep 11, 2010 Ryan rated it it was amazing
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.

So simple and so direct that one was struck by how obvious these statements are, and yet these words seemed like a newly discovered insight, especially as they came logically after a series of vivid expositions on nature and natural history. Nature is beautiful and if we preserve it, we truly deserve it. If we destroy it, we are killjoys. Simple as that.

A f
May 24, 2007 MsBrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Are you one of those people who actually likes to read Thoreau? Well then you’re missing out! Aldo Leopold is sooooo much better. Leopold’s writing is poetic yet it also calls the common person to action. Likewise Leopold walks the walk when it comes to protecting the environment. While this book didn’t pass the random page test, if you like authors like Thoreau, then you should definitely check out The Sand County Almanac, which is the bible to environmentalists. First Page: There are some who ...more
Feb 12, 2013 Dnicebear rated it it was amazing
In honor of re-reading this book I take an hour walk in my neighborhood before I write my review. Behind the loud barking of too many dogs and below the many paved roads and above the blooming non-native eucalyptus and acacia I hear the trilling of the junco and call of red shouldered hawk. I see light sparkling on a natural stream that flows open to the air. I smell the Douglas fir, and I feel the sun pouring out her loving warmth and light. I envision bat houses and blooming native plants at t ...more
Sep 14, 2008 jeremy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
it is a shame that some of the most important and beloved books become also the most neglected. taken for granted, these works are thus robbed of both majesty and worth (to say nothing of efficacy). it's as if certain books are deemed classic and then left to impart their wisdoms from atop a dusty shelf.

a sand county almanac is roundly acknowledged as one of the most seminal titles in the nature/conservation/environmental writing genre, and like all great books it remains imperatively relative
There are three parts to this book. The first, 'A Sand County Almanac', is the prettiest part. Mostly essays about Leopold's love and connection with nature throughout his life. The second part, 'Sketches Here and There', is exactly that, essays about the places he has spent time in and his reflections on how we use and abuse these places. The last part, 'The Upshot', is the hardest writing. Here Leopoldo puts his background in forestry and wildlife management to use describing what's happening ...more
Carol Smith
This is a difficult book to rate.

On the one hand, there is incredible value to be gained from the author's keen sense of observation. The first set of essays, the Sand County Almanac, takes us through a year of observing nature at work on Leopold's farm. He discovers firsthand how certain plants fare better when collocated. He bands chickadees and later discovers the bands in the pellets of a screech owl. He gains broad insights from small things that most of us pass by every day without consid
Angie Curtis
May 22, 2009 Angie Curtis rated it it was amazing
Powerful, inspiring, and passion driven is just a few words I would use to describe this book. Anyone who doubts the importance of conservations needs to read this book. I loved the book but it takes it made me cry, made me rage and made me question a lot of things. His words were powerful and really made me think about what I believe and how I impacted the world I lived in. You could feel so much in his words and on passage in particular will stay with me forever. " We reached the old wolf in t ...more
May 16, 2007 John rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Nature-lovers
Shelves: non-fiction
Passionate, thoughtful and with an eye for subtle beauty, Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac (much like Rachel Carson's Silent Spring) is a Bible for the modern environmental movement. His writing combines the acute perceptivity of the scientist with the holistic understanding of the conservationist. He preached the gospel of conservation before it was popular to do so; at a time when the memories of buffalo and passenger pigeons still swarmed like fruit flies over the collective guilty consci ...more
Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership
One of Cambridge Sustainability's Top 50 Books for Sustainability, as voted for by our alumni network of over 3,000 senior leaders from around the world. To find out more, click here.

Written from an experiential perspective, with a style that is often poetic, the main message of A Sand County Almanac is that the land is not there to serve us, but that we need to live in community with the land. Community without land is empty, so by threatening the land we are threatening community. The land, th
Kerri Stebbins
I want to tie this book to my heart like a kite and fly it daily. I want to know my grandfather and father found Leopold long before I did. I want the chance to talk to them about it, about conservation, about the way they taught me so much by letting me watch the way they loved and respected the woods, the lake, the pristine heartbeat of our wild places. I want to memorize full chapters to be able to recite them to the trail on long runs, my legs becoming one with the timeless stories only tree ...more
Richard Reese
Jul 31, 2015 Richard Reese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Aldo Leopold’s book, A Sand County Almanac, is near the top of many lists of environmental classics. It was published in 1949, and has sold over two million copies. He was born in Iowa in 1887, when Earth was inhabited by just 1.4 billion humans. It was an era before radio, television, automobiles, airplanes, computers, DDT, nuclear fission, and antibiotics. Most roads were dirt. Vast ancient forests still thrived. On the first page, Leopold informs us that this is a book for people who cannot l ...more
Mike Mensing
Dec 11, 2011 Mike Mensing rated it it was amazing
The war between the forest and prairie, the return of geese every March and cutting down a tree for firewood; these are just some of the things that Aldo Leopold writes about in his novel A Sand County Almanac. The novel is split into four distinct parts, but every part of the book is about the environment, either how to save it or the author’s experiences of it. Most of the book is about Aldo’s experiences in the wilderness, which are split between his cabin in Wisconsin and his many trips thro ...more
I had to read this book for a middle childhood education class that integrated social studies and science. We had to read this book for our final exam and write 8 responses to 8 quotes we found in the book. Simple enough. But I put off reading this book because I thought it would be boring and statistical. To my surprise, I actually loved it. It was more than just a capture of the goings on at the author's farm in Wisconsin; it blended history and societal downfalls that are threatening to disso ...more
Mar 06, 2009 Louise rated it really liked it
It was a pleasure to read this collection of nature essays by Aldo Leopold. Leopold, a conservationist writing from northern Wisconsin in the early 20th century, presents thoughtful reflections and provoking anecdotes about the outdoors. While the second half of the book is less personal and more abstract (and at times bordering on preachy), I really enjoyed his day-to-day observations and encounters. His writing is direct and full of curiosity. Although the author and his dog are virtually the ...more
Oct 18, 2008 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who cares about our world
Recommended to Nancy by: friend
I was overwhelmed and saddened by the information in this book. Even back in the early part of the century, the environment was in serious trouble. I worry about the future of our planet...with all we know about the rhythmns of the natural world...humans continue to destroy the wonders of our world. From aerial wolf killing in Alaska (thanks, Sarah Palin), to the trashing of the world by amazing amounts of garbage (WALL-E)...well things don't look good for future generations. Everyone should rea ...more
Jan 12, 2009 Joel rated it it was amazing
An optimist might easily describe Aldo Leopold, along with John Muir and Henry Thoreau, as a pioneer species in the eventual succession of modern environmentalism. To the pessimist he remains a shunned prophet, whose advice was relevant at its conception, continues to be so, and yet is repeatedly ignored. No wonder the cry of the eco-warrior resounds ever more desperately! The work for which Leopold is most famous, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There, was first published in 1949, t ...more
Sep 17, 2013 Sheri rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
So we started this today as a family read-aloud. The goal is a chapter (corresponding to a month) a day for the next 12 days.January thoughts. I liked the narcissistic representation of the animals. Each is incapable of noticing the others; I found the economic description of the meadow mouse's tunnels under the snow and the grass buried in ground especially entertaining.February is all about the felling of an oak tree. I have a burr oak in my backyard that is 200+ years old; as Leopold travels ...more
Frank Berg
Mar 22, 2014 Frank Berg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1949, shortly after the author succumbed to a heart attack while fighting a forest fire near a friend’s home near Baraboo Wisconsin, A Sand County Almanac is a joyful piece to read. I can’t completely describe how closely this book resonates to home. Opening up with a subtle but key difference in the way we view the world as an interaction rather than an ownership, is an essential respect we must provide to our ambitions as custodians of the Earth. As cognizant beings with a free wi ...more
Justin Rose
Feb 03, 2014 Justin Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leopold's descriptions envelop the reader into his outdoor experiences. He was obviously a man who understood and appreciated the outdoors.
Much of Sand County informs the reader of the conditions of North American wild land, and the causes of its deterioration. Like others of his genre, however, his idealism distorts and clouds a scientific approach at the problems, and methods to stop and reverse environmental damage. For example, on page 51 he proposes the idea that there should be “idle” stri
Anne-Gigi  Chan
I wrote 2 essays about this book for my restoration ecology class. I thought I would share them here. This is the first one in response to Part I: A Sand County Almanac.

A Sand County Almanac made a significant impression on me the moment I read these words in the Foreword:
… our bigger-and-better society is now like a hypochondriac, so obsessed with its own economic health as to have lost the capacity to remain healthy.
These words were true in 1948, and, sadly, they are still true to a large ex
Nov 30, 2014 Paul rated it liked it
Aldo Leopold was a scientist, author, forester, ecologist, and environmentalist before he passed away in 1948. One year after his death A Sand County Almanac was published, and is now known as one of the greatest pieces in nature writing (writing about the natural environment). Leopold splits his book into three main sections, “A Sand County Almanac”, “Sketches Here and There”, and “The Upshot”. He illustrates the diversity, beauty, and complexity of nature throughout these sections and urges th ...more
Mar 30, 2017 Kendra rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, nature
This was a beautiful book. The beginning shows a picture of the author's intimate knowledge and connection with a piece of land. The end discusses conservation and the struggle to fight for nature's right to exist, even if it doesn't have a direct economic benefit to us. I definitely plan to read this again soon and really think through the ideas presented.
May 06, 2014 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
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Nature Literature: A Sand County Almanac discussion 64 36 Jan 11, 2016 01:51PM  
DOGA TARIHI OKUMA...: Bir Kum Yöresi Almanağı - Aldo Leopold 12 14 Apr 16, 2015 10:51PM  
  • Wilderness and the American Mind
  • Down the River
  • Encounters with the Archdruid
  • Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival
  • Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature
  • Nature Writings: The Story of My Boyhood and Youth / My First Summer in the Sierra / The Mountains of California / Stickeen / Essays
  • Of Wolves and Men
  • The End of Nature
  • The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
  • The Singing Wilderness
  • Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas
  • Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect
  • The Secret Knowledge of Water
  • Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place
  • The Sea Around Us
  • Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England
  • Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness
  • Practice of the Wild
Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) had lasting impact on natural resource management and policy in the early to mid-twentieth century and his influence has continued to expand since his death. It was through his observation, experience, and reflection at his Wisconsin river farm that he honed the concepts of land health and a land ethic that have had ever-growing influence in the years since his death. He p ...more
More about Aldo Leopold...

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“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.” 235 likes
“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.” 162 likes
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