And Sketches Here and There
by Aldo Leopold
Aldo Leopold is considered "the father of wildlife conservation in America." He spent a lifetime working for the U.S. Forest Service and Game Management department in Wisconsin, continually advocating better land use and wildlife management. This book is his magnum opus. I always saw it on my mother's bookshelf growing up, so it lodged itself as a book of great importance in my mind. Yet I didn't read it until I was in college and picked up an illustrated copy at a garage sale one summer. Immediately I found myself immersed and delighted with the beautiful lyric prose, detailed and poetic descriptions of wildlife, and thoughtful, convincing arguments presented in the final sections.
The book is arranged in a manner that draws the reader in, to solidify and build towards Leopold's famous Land Ethic treatise. In the first part he describes a year on his exhausted farm in Wisconsin, describing the seasons, the land, the animals that live and travel there. The second part (Sketches Here and There) describes the natural history and local fauna/flora of different parts of the country: Idaho, Illinois, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, etc. In the final section of the book Leopold expounds in detail the idea that land is a community of living things and can be a lasting and positive part of culture itself, if we use it wisely and treat it with respect.
A Sand County Almanac is a classic, one of the best pieces of nature writing I have ever read. It stands shoulder to shoulder with Silent Spring in terms of impact and lasting impression on me. Some parts of the book echo sentiment and ideas I recently read in Adventures with a Texas Naturalist.
Rating: 5/5 Published: 1949, pp 228