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A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  26,306 ratings  ·  1,502 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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Bryce Finch Yes, from a perspective worth more than money. Aldo sheds light on his experiences with nature and illuminates the fallacy of believing nature has any…moreYes, from a perspective worth more than money. Aldo sheds light on his experiences with nature and illuminates the fallacy of believing nature has any one-to-one feedback response. The interconnections of actions performed by all species has far-reaching consequences beyond what can be conceived in a single day or even a lifetime. If you'd like to attempt to stand atop the shoulders of giants, understanding Aldo's perspective would be a space in which you can begin.(less)

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Nov 19, 2009 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
Roy Lotz
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a dull world if we knew all about geese!

Nature is refreshing. Even a short walk in a park can powerfully clear one’s head. For whatever reason—perhaps because our ancestors lived in trees—surrounding oneself with birches and maples produces in nearly everyone feelings of warmth, comfort, and peace. And for many people, nature is more than refreshing: it is awe-inspiring, even divine. Natural environments are, for some, more uplifting than cathedrals. Emerson might have captured this str
Dave Schaafsma
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: environment
“Does the economist know the grebe?”—Aldo Leopold

You begin with this, which is where I believe we are, in terms of the health of the planet:

Sand County Almanac is a 1949 collection of essays by Wisconsin conservationist Leopold—some people now call him one of the fathers of “deep ecology”—that is one of the two most influential and well known environmental books of the twentieth century, the other being Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Today it continues to
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 care
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
Bam cooks the books ;-)
I've had this book on my shelf for ages and decided to read it in honor of Earth Day. It's a little too cold for reading outside today but the sun is shining, I have the door wall open and I'm enjoying the fresh breezes and birdsongs of spring...while listening to a few of Bach's cello suites. Perfect!

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. He asks the question: "Is a hi
First published in 1949, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold was definitely way ahead of its time. Much of that stated within remains valid and relevant still today. It is a book about conservation and ecology and man’s relationship to land.

At the author’s death, in April 1948, the book existed in draft form. His son edited it and brought it into publication a year later.

The book has four parts. The first section reads as a monthly nature almanac. Here is recorded
Apr 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
E. G.
Aug 09, 2015 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 San
P. Lundburg
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a true classic and canonized piece of Nature Literature. Leopold was an ecology scientist at the U of Wisconsin, Madison, who bought a small piece of property in the Sand County region in central Wisconsin, where he and his family would take long weekends and vacations, fixing the place up and enjoying nature.

The essays collected in this amazing book are Leopold's musings and observations on his little chunk of the wilderness, reflecting on everything from sipping coffee outside in
As a conservationist, Leopold was an heir to Thoreau and a thinker ahead of his time, yet I expect few people know how much of our current philosophy of wildness and the human impact on the world is indebted to him. This was first published in 1949, the year after Leopold’s death, but so many of his musings ring true today: how we only appreciate wildlife if we can put an economic value on it, the troubles we get into when we eradicate predators and let prey animals run rampant, and the danger o ...more
Feb 24, 2008 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
Feb 01, 2009 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
Jessica McCann
Jan 15, 2014 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 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 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
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Even though my parents owned few books and yet did own this, I never got around to it. And maybe as a child I wouldn't have enjoyed it so much. But now, goodness, I recognize that it belongs on the same shelf as Thoreau, Rachel Carson, Bernd Heinrich, and Michael Perry. The man is indeed a hero for the conservation movement, and writes beautifully.

Wisconsin's wilderness, and the nation's perception of the value wilderness and of diverse ecosystems, owes much to him. We have made progress s
Sep 14, 2008 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
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
Feb 12, 2013 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
Kerri Anne
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
Aug 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 08, 2021 rated it it was ok
First published in 1949, this is a 3-part series of essays by prominent wilderness-advocate Aldo Leopold. Part 1, A Sand County Almanac, is Leopold's month-by-month observations on his Wisconsin farm. Parts 2 and 3, Sketches Here and There and The Upshot, are essays he wrote about his ideas on land use and wildlife conservation.

Personally, I thought Part 1 was the best. The monthly info was kind of nice, although not nearly as charming as Hal Borland's lesser-known Beyond Your Doorstep: A Handb
Bob Brinkmeyer
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac is one of the foundational texts of the conservation and environmental movements, a text that now over 70 years past its publication date is still repeatedly commented upon and cited by activists arguing for the preservation and guardianship of the natural world. It has inspired any number of important nature writers, not only because of Leopold’s astoundingly detailed and passionate descriptions of the natural world and its intricacies, but also, and perhaps ...more
Richard Reese
Jul 31, 2015 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
May 16, 2007 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
Angie Curtis
May 22, 2009 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
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Rachel Libke
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I finished rereading this the other day but am still thinking about it. This was probably the first true nature writing I ever read and it truly is the best. Half the time I get an urge to read thoughtful, beautiful writing about woods and fields and creatures and pick up a new book in the genre I am disappointed and wish I’d reread Leopold instead.
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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 p ...more

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