A Sand County Almanac
by Aldo Leopold
“There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot.” - Aldo Leopold
Admired by an ever-growing number of readers and imitated by hundreds of writers, A Sand County Almanac written by Aldo Leopold serves as one of the cornerstones for modern conservation science, policy, and ethics. First published by Oxford University Press in 1949 – one year after Leopold’s death – it has become a classic in the field equaled in its lasting stature only by Henry David Thoreau’s Walden.
While Aldo Leopold was writing in the 1940s he could not have imagined the far-reaching impact his book would have. Over two million copies have been printed and it has been translated into twelve languages.
Long respected in his own fields of forestry and wildlife management, Aldo Leopold was a prolific writer for scientific journals and conservation magazines. However, in 1937, sometime after his fifty-third birthday, Leopold became increasingly focused on reaching the general public with his conservation message. Working over a twelve-year period, Leopold wrote, re-wrote, and re-wrote again, essays that both informed people of how the natural world worked, and inspired people to take action to ensure the future health of the land and water that sustains all life.
Not only was this influential book late to develop in Leopold’s mind, it was very nearly never completed. A week after Oxford University Press agreed to publish his manuscript, titled “Great Possessions,” Aldo Leopold suffered a heart attack and died while fighting an escaped grass fire on a neighbor’s property.
Lead by Luna Leopold, Aldo’s son, a group of Leopold’s family and colleagues collaborated on the final editing of the book, reluctantly agreeing to one significant change; renaming the book from Leopold’s working title “Great Possessions” to A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There.
Through science, history, humor, and prose, Leopold utilizes A Sand County Almanac and its call for a Land Ethic to communicate the true connection between people and the natural world, with the hope that the readers will begin to treat the land with the love and respect it deserves.
Download printable A Sand County Almanac Fact Sheet (2-page pdf file)