Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Sand County Almanac

Book: A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold

Published: 1949

Description: First published in 1949 and praised in The New York Times Book Review as "a trenchant book, full of vigor and bite," 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 written by Leopold over a forty-year period as he traveled through the woodlands of Wisconsin, Iowa, Arizona, Sonora, Oregon, Manitoba, and elsewhere; and a final section in which Leopold addresses the philosophical issues involved in wildlife conservation. (from Amazon.com)

My Thoughts: This is a classic of conservation literature. (apparently. I'd never heard of it until I read part of it for a class, which got me wanting to read more.) I must admit that I agree with the label of 'classic.' 

Beautifully written. Leopold's descriptions of the nature around him were beautiful and enchanting. His love and knowledge of nature were palpable, and made me want to do nothing so much as go outside and look around. 

He was very clear in his condemnation of a lot of destruction of natural habitats (I couldn't help wondering what would he think of today's America). Sometimes I found this too didactic, even distracting, but at other times it was thought-provoking and poignant.

As mentioned in the description, A Sand County Almanac is full of a deep concern for ethics. Leopold calls for conservation of nature, not out of any vested interest in man, but simply because all species have the right to survive. He very much acknowledges that humans do and must use the land, but he argues against the modern lifestyle, where people are so separated from the land and the environment that they lose all knowledge of it and respect for it. His concern with ethics is perhaps why this book has remained so popular, and certainly played a part in how much I enjoyed it. It was a joy to read a book written by an author who argued for what he found was right and did not equivocate about it. Instead, Leopold's arguments and writings were guided by his principles.

Magic call for a closer connection with and respect for the land.

No comments:

Post a Comment