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A Sand County Almanac

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  533 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac has enthralled generations of nature lovers and conservationists and is indeed revered by everyone seriously interested in protecting the natural world. Hailed for prose that is "full of beauty and vigor and bite" (The New York Times), it is perhaps the finest example of nature writing since Thoreau's Walden.

Now this classic work is
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published November 15th 2001 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1949)
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Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I first read this book back in college as extra credit in a biology class. My reread was made more pleasurable this time around due to the fact that I wasn't being graded, and to the addition of Michael Sewell's stunning nature photographs.

The book features monthly entries, as Leopold guides you through a year spent on his one hundred and twenty acre Wisconsin farm. His writing style is warm and welcoming, and occasionally dosed with humor:

My dog does not care where heat comes from, but he
Apr 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
This latest and best issue of the classic A Sand County Almanac captures Leopold's philosophy with magnificent photographs by Michael Sewell.

This edition, in conjunction with the Aldo Leopold Foundation (which fosters an ethical relationship between people and land), includes some facsimiles of the original almanac and, more importantly, a number of short essays on The Land Ethic.
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've avoided this book for years, thinking it would be dated and dull, especially since I've never been anywhere near the Wisconsin farm that Leopold writes about. I was so wrong. Leopold is known as a forester and environmentalist but he's also written concise and poetic descriptions of land, flora and fauna that make me feel like I'm also on that farm in Wisconsin.
It goes month by month through the year, with March bringing the return of the Canada geese, July the prairie flowers, September
Stunning. (What does one say?...) Not only is the whole ethic and philosophy of conservation and nature here (what a beautiful metaphor in one spot in the book: 'the round river', of life and ecology, for example -- just put that metaphor out there in text to start one series of short essays and then never invoke it again, later; but the thought remains through all the rest of the essays) -- not only is all the thought and observation of these things here, but the Leopold style of writing (the ...more
Jan 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Oh my. Anyone who has missed reading these essays drawn from nature is missing one of the best "meals" served up by writer for both mind and senses.

The author is a professor who lives on some modest acreage in Wisconsin in the mid-twentieth century. He devotes an essay to each month of the year (hence, "almanac").

One of my favorite essays was the one about the oak tree which was hit by lightning and then felled for firewood. As the sawyers cut through the rings the author summarizes the years
Jim Folger
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this years ago, but was most pleased this was selected by our book group to read. Leopold is said to have started the conservation movement, and his appreciation and reverence for the land ethic are most important - especially now. There are great pearls of wisdom and quotes throughout the book such as "man always kills what he loves, and so we, the pioneers, have killed our wilderness."
I must admit that I hunted with a bow like his, and appreciated his approach to sportsmanship. I also
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started “A Sand County Almanac” only knowing that it was considered an environmental classic, so much so that the Library of America had released an Aldo Leopold volume with this book as the centerpiece. I was pleasantly surprised in a couple of aspects of the book. First, the book is quite modern, released after WWII. I was expecting the book to be much older. Second, the book was written in a friendly, observational tone. Leopold told stories about nature through his observations. This has ...more
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
How have I not read this before? Lovely, lyrical writing that made me pause to admire turns of phrase. For example, in July, as the author waxes poetical about bird song, “We sally forth, the dog and I, at random. He has paid scant respect to all these vocal goings-on, for to him the evidence of tenancy is not song, but scent. Any illiterate bundle of feathers, he says, can make a noise in a tree.”

I loved the almanac structure and how it reflects the changing seasons. For example: “By
Kate Cronin
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book has truly been a salvation, something beautiful and soothing that I could lose myself in for a few minutes at a time. In this version we get one chapter for each month, along with Leopold's observations of the land and animals and all that we share the natural world with - along with his still true warnings of how we need to prevent abuse of the land and prioritize conservation. For this anniversary edition, photographer Michael Sewell walked Leopold's property in Wisconsin in each ...more
Leah Hester
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This incredible book, which I read as a supplement to my conservation biology course, should be required reading for all students. I can see little complaint in doing so, given that it's a short book- a but over 200 pages- and it also reads smoothly. More like poetry than a collection of essays. Aldo Leopold's Land Ethic is still with us today, part of our guiding principles for conservation today, but there is still much to be done, and this inspiring work is a must to move forward.
May 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The descriptive first half or more of this book is flamboyantly, maddeningly, amusingly overwritten and dated. And for a book about conservation, there is a surprising amount of it devoted to the joys of game hunting. That said, the intelligence and the passion behind the arguments about the ways we should be thinking about conservation (and what conservation is as opposed to what we have settled for calling it) make it clear why this is a watermark classic in the field.
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My copy was illustrated with photos by Tom Algire, published by Tamarack Press, Madison, Wisconsin, copyright 1977.
One of my favorite essays is "February, Good Oak". My Dad bought a 2-man crosscut saw at an auction, cleaned off the rust, polished it with steel wool until it shone, waxed it with Johnson's Paste wax, filed it sharp, and taught my older brother and I how to use it effectively. We cut a lot of good oak with it, burned in a cast-iron potbelly stove down in our basement.
Kurt Anderson
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: worth-rereading
You know how Dr Larch reads 'David Copperfield' to the orphans every night in 'the Cider House Rules?' I think, if I were to choose just one book to be read to me every night, 'A Sand County Almanac' would be a finalist. Definitely one for the top shelf.

Side note: few things have made me miss Vermont (childhood?) more than reading this book.
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-env-natlhx
This book also is listed under the title, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There. Are there two different books or is this the same book listed two ways? My review is under the other title.
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! Right up there with Annie Dillard’s “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.”
"Books on nature seldom mention wind, for they are written behind stoves."
May 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The best "environmental" book I've ever read. Leopold was a professor at the University of Wisconsin until his early death in 1948. He was a founding member of the Wilderness Society in 1934. But that makes it sound as though this is a pedantic book, dull and suitable only for bedtime reading. Not at all. The descriptions are glorious. While the line illustrations in my copy (Illustrated by Charles W Schwartz) are beautifully rendered) they are almost redundant, Leopold descriptions are that ...more
Jim Leckband
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"Assume a spherical cow"

That is the thinking what Aldo Leopold fought against. (Look up "spherical cow" on Wikipedia if you don't know what I'm talking about). The thinking that the equation of land has dollars on one side. In the thinking that there *is* an understandable equation of land rather than a multidimensional universe of space, time and life.

And that is the genius of "A Sand County Almanac". Leopold humbly shows us that in an otherwise forgotten patch of land that if you sit and watch
Steve H
An abridged compilation from the original book, this work from shortly after WWII is both timeless and historical. Many of the points that Leopold makes about rampant progress, especially in the introduction, could have been written yesterday. On the other hand, many observations of nature from the 1940s are of that time, and the past 60-70 years of "progress" have so altered the world that it's unlikely such a book could ever be written again.

I wonder if there's an unabridged audio version...
Feb 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
My second read through this book, this time for a class. Leopold is a compacter, more lyrical Thoreau. A game hunter who elevated the nondescript Whitlow-flower, a genus of the mustard family.

The photographic illustrations in this edition extend the page count beyond essay length, but they are quite lovely.
Jan (the Gryphon)
Jun 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Leopold's love of the land and the animals and plants that inhabit it shines through every word. His attempt to return a farm to "original prairie" seemed rather strange in that he spent most of his effort in planting trees, not grasses, but Michael Sewell's stunning 2001 photos show the charming woodlot farm that Leopold left behind on his death in 1948.
Jan 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Not as compelling as I had hoped for. I much preferred the more exuberant prose of John Muir on the Sierras. The "almanac" was easy reading but just general musings that very much read like the work of an older man. I thought the essay on "The Land Ethic" was more interesting as we are still dealing with all the issues and attitudes Leopold describes after 60 years.
LandscapeArchitect Books
Recommended by Tom Turner - author of 'Garden History: Philosophy and Design 2000 BC - 2000 AD' - as one of forty books which - he suggests - every landscape student should have seen. Thanks to the Landscape Information Hub UK.
Gary Brecht
Jul 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Having lived for fifteen years in the area described in Leopold's book, this is a book I especially admire. I gained a new found respect for nature (and especially trees)after reading this.
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: natural-history
Very nice. Must have seemed radical at the time it was written. This book is called "A Sand County Almanac", I don't know why the title is screwed up in Goodreads.
Katy Jo Turner
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some great nuggets of insight. Jumps around all free-flow (wherever his opinions take him).
Chris Keefe
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-re-read
Remarkable, and worthy of a long sit with pen in hand.
Sep 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The Land Ethic was the best bit, but the rest was pretty nice. The photos worked well with the text most of the time, but a few felt a little extraneous.
Robert Olsen
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Aldo takes you through the year plus with essays on the concepts of conservation, in terms of things, natural, wild, and free in such a beautiful way, I'm forever rereading his work.
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Extra treat to have Leopold's words read by Stuart Udall!
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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 ...more
“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.” 265 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.” 213 likes
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