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Admired by an ever-growing number of readers and imitated by hundreds of writers, A Sand County Almanac serves as one of the cornerstones of modern conservation science, policy, and ethics. First published by Oxford University Press in 1949, it has become a conservation classic.
While Aldo Leopold was writing in the 1940s, he could not have imagined the far-reaching impact his book would have. It has been translated into 14 languages and more than two million copies have been printed.
Long respected in his own fields of forestry and wildlife ecology, Leopold was a prolific writer for scientific journals and conservation magazines. However, in 1937, sometime after his 53rd birthday, he became focused on reaching the general public with his conservation message.
Working over a 12-year period, he wrote, re-wrote, and re-wrote again, essays that both informed readers of how the natural world worked and inspired them 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 nearly wasn’t completed. Just a week after Oxford University Press agreed to publish his manuscript, titled “Great Possessions,” Leopold died of a heart attack while fighting a grass fire on his neighbor’s farm.
After Leopold’s death, his son Luna spearheaded a group of family members and colleagues who 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.
“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
Through science, history, humor, and prose, Leopold uses A Sand County Almanac and its call for a land ethic to communicate the true connection between people and the natural world. The hope: that readers will begin to treat the land with the love and respect it deserves.
A Sand County Almanac has been translated into 14 languages. Unfortunately, many of the translations are now out of print, but you may be able to find used copies if you search a bit.