Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Pines Above Snow's Hero

Aldo Leopold's Odyssey: Rediscovering the Author of A Sand County Almanac
by Julianne Lutz Newton, 2006, Island Press

Somehow it seems wrong to post about a book I haven't read yet, especially for just my second entry. But I'm so excited tonight to learn about a new book about Aldo Leopold, author of the essay, "Pines above the Snow," that lends its name to this very blog. Reviewers are calling it an "intellectual history" of Leopold, as opposed to a biography. That means it doesn't step on the literary toes of historian Curt Meine's authoritative bio of Leopold or conflict with writer Marybeth Lorbiecki's accessible, popular volume (A Fierce Green Fire). Thank goodness. Those are great books.

Instead, Newton approaches Leopold as a fellow ecologist, examining his ecological thinking in relation to his contemporaries and to our current understanding of humanity's place in nature. Most important, Newton asks, according to Amy Wildermuth's review in Orion magazine (March/April 2007,pp. 68-69) , "Have we begun to see the land as a whole instead of its parts? Have we examined broader measures to determine land health? Have we adequately confronted our profit-driven culture?"

I can't wait to read Newton's assessment of these fundamental questions that Leopold posed. Reading A Sand County Almanac in grad school was the beginning of my personal odyssey as an environmentalist, and Aldo Leopold's thinking had guided me all along the way.

Reviews of Aldo Leopold's Odyssey can be found at Orion and Audubon

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