FOR THE HEALTH OF THE LAND by Aldo Leopold

FOR THE HEALTH OF THE LAND

Previously Unpublished Essays and Other Writings
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A salubrious broadside of environmental essays, full of dignity and plain-spoken ethics, and a good number seen here for the first time, from conservationist icon Leopold. It is dumbfounding to learn that many of the essays in this collection, with their tinder-dry wit, their humility, and their calls to individual responsibility, were never published during Leopold’s lifetime, but then neither was his Sand County Almanac (1968). Particularly valuable is the overview they give of the evolution of his thinking, from his early espousal of the land-use sensibility of Gifford Pinchot to his later urgings to protect land health and biodiversity. All of the pieces suggest ways private landowners might go about conserving their land. Sometimes Leopold’s tone is folksy, as in the article on starting his own hunting cooperative; other times it is practical, as in the little gems he wrote for the Wisconsin Agriculturalist and Farmer explaining how to fashion a grape tangle for overwintering quail or why —a thriving woodlot, full of birds, is thus a contribution to the community and a badge of social conduct.— Leopold is passionate but never flighty, always shrewdly able to explain to those who judge the worthiness of an environmental act by its human consequences sound reasons why reflooding a marsh or unplugging a ditch would benefit the landholder. The concluding essays chronicle his attempts to undo the misleading information peddled by government agricultural extension services, with their greed complex, monoculturing, and regimentation. He is a fierce advocate of a healthy landscape, one full of variety, tenderly cared for, lived lightly upon, a responsibility of landowners whose curiosity should encompass the whole biota. That would rekindle, indeed would comprise, the very ’satisfactions of living.— Readers may dicker over whether Leopold’s agronomy needs updating, but his environmental vision is as timeless now as it was ahead of the curve when he wrote it down. (Illus., not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 1-55963-763-3
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Island Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1999




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