Aldo Leopold's Odyssey: Rediscovering the Author of a Sand County Almanac

Overview

A household icon of the environmental movement, Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) may be the most quoted conservationist in history. A Sand County Almanac has sold millions of copies and Leopold's writings are venerated for their perceptions about land and how people might live in concert with the whole community of life.

But who is the man behind the words? How did he arrive at his profound and poetic insights, inspiring generations of environmentalists? Building on past scholarship and...

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Aldo Leopold's Odyssey: Rediscovering the Author of A Sand County Almanac

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Overview

A household icon of the environmental movement, Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) may be the most quoted conservationist in history. A Sand County Almanac has sold millions of copies and Leopold's writings are venerated for their perceptions about land and how people might live in concert with the whole community of life.

But who is the man behind the words? How did he arrive at his profound and poetic insights, inspiring generations of environmentalists? Building on past scholarship and a fresh study of Leopold's unpublished archival materials, Julianne Lutz Newton retraces the intellectual journey generated by such passion and intelligence.

Aldo Leopold's Odyssey illuminates his lifelong quest for answers to a fundamental issue: how can people live prosperously on the land and keep it healthy, too? Leopold's journey took him from Iowa to Yale to the Southwest to Wisconsin, with fascinating stops along the way to probe the causes of early land settlement failures, contribute to the emerging science of ecology, and craft a new vision for land use.

More than a biography, this articulate volume is a guide to one man's intellectual growth, and an inspirational resource for anyone pondering the relationships between people and the land.

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Editorial Reviews

Isle
"Though Julianne Lutz Newton's new book about Aldo Leopold is described as a biography, it is much more than that...Aldo Leopold's Odyssey fits Leopold into the larger tradition of American environmentalism, and shows him to be an essential part of its development... an invaluable look into Leopold's personal and professional life."
The New York Times Book Review
"In Aldo Leopold's Odyssey, her new study of Leopold's intellectual evolution, Julianne Lutz Newton makes us feel the loss of what might have followed A Sand County Almanac by showing us in authoritative detail what led up to it. The result is a biography of ideas, a map of how far Leopold had moved between 1909…and his death…"
Isle - Matt Low
"Though Julianne Lutz Newton's new book about Aldo Leopold is described as a biography, it is much more than that...Aldo Leopold's Odyssey fits Leopold into the larger tradition of American environmentalism, and shows him to be an essential part of its development... an invaluable look into Leopold's personal and professional life."
author of The End of Nature and Deep Economy - Bill McKibben
"Aldo Leopold's Odyssey discovers new and vital meaning in the words and deeds of one of environmentalism's great prophets. A crucial book for our time!"
author of Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work and Correction Lines - Curt Meine
"Across a lifetime of study, advocacy, teaching, and writing, Aldo Leopold devoted himself to understanding and enriching the relationship between people and land. With a keen eye for historical context and contemporary influences, Julianne Lutz Newton explores important new dimensions of Leopold's experience. Her vivid narrative—equal parts history of science, intellectual biography, and environmental history—reveals what Leopold once called the 'authentic human drama' of conservation. As that drama continues to unfold, Newton has provided a compelling account of Leopold's essential role in defining its tensions and deepening its meaning."
author of A River Running West: The Life of John Wesley Powell - Donald Worster
"This book provides an excellent guide to the most important conservationist thinker that we have had. It belongs on the shelf of indispensable works for understanding Leopold and for building on his legacy."
author of Gathering Moss - Robin Wall Kimmerer
"With her warm, engaging prose, Julianne Lutz Newton brings us a deeper understanding of Leopold's intellectual journey, and the lessons from the land that shaped his thinking. She skillfully weaves his insights into the cultural context of the time and the evolving consciousness of our responsibilities to the places that sustain us."
The New York Times Book Review
"In Aldo Leopold's Odyssey, her new study of Leopold's intellectual evolution, Julianne Lutz Newton makes us feel the loss of what might have followed A Sand County Almanac by showing us in authoritative detail what led up to it. The result is a biography of ideas, a map of how far Leopold had moved between 1909.and his death."
Isle
"Though Julianne Lutz Newton''s new book about Aldo Leopold is described as a biography, it is much more than that...Aldo Leopold''s Odyssey fits Leopold into the larger tradition of American environmentalism, and shows him to be an essential part of its development... an invaluable look into Leopold''s personal and professional life."

— Matt Low

Verlyn Klinkenborg
One of the many virtues of Newton’s book is that it helps us understand how carefully Leopold worked out positions that sound self-evident to us now, thanks largely to A Sand County Almanac. We are still at a point, being human, where arguments are worth more than axioms. That is something Leopold grasped about his own field in the 1920’s. “It can be safely said,” he wrote, “that when it comes to actual work on the ground, the objects of conservation are never axiomatic or obvious but always complex and usually conflicting.”
— The New York Times
Library Journal
Newton (research associate, dept. of Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) uses past scholarship and unpublished archival materials to tell the intriguing story of how conservationist Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) formulated his philosophy of a land ethic, a concept that forms the basis of today's environmental movement. Beginning as a dissertation, the text is rich with Leopold's own words describing the people, books, and work/life experiences that molded him. Leopold learned to view the land as a dynamic operating system and recognized that all humankind must adopt this view in order to conserve resources and preserve life. He believed that wild things are important for a full life and that knowing nature transforms individuals and their relationships with the land. These ideas evolved into his seminal work, A Sand County Almanac. Although not a traditional biography, Newton's volume places Leopold in his time and discusses his roles as author, professor, father, and Wisconsin landowner. Of special interest to those already familiar with Leopold and an important addition for all environmental collections. Patricia Ann Owens, Wabash Valley Coll., Mt. Carmel, IL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597260459
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 10/9/2006
  • Pages: 472
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Julianne Lutz Newton is a visiting professor of environmental studies at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, and president of the John Burroughs Institute in Roxbury, New York. Her articles have appeared in Conservation Biology, The Illinois Steward, Journal of Civil Society, and American Midland Naturalist.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
 
Chapter 1. Seed Plots
Chapter 2. Written on the Hills
Chapter 3. The Middle Border
Chapter 4. Interpreting Pharaoh's Dream
Chapter 5. An American System
Chapter 6. A Common Concept of Land
Chapter 7. Ecological Poetry
Chapter 8. The Germ and the Juggernaut
Chapter 9. Wildlife and the New Man
Chapter 10. Knowing Nature
Chapter 11. A New Kind of Conservation
 
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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