Owning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Ownership

Author(s): Andro Linklater


Barely two centuries ago, most of the world's productive land still belonged either communally to traditional societies or to the higher powers of monarch or church. But that pattern, and the ways of life that went with it, were consigned to history as a result of the most creative - and, at the same time, destructive - cultural force in the modern era: the idea of individual, exclusive ownership of land. This notion laid waste to traditional communal civilisations, displacing entire peoples from their homelands, and brought into being a unique concept of individual freedom and a distinct form of representative government and democratic institutions. Other great civilizations, in Russia, China, and the Islamic world, evolved very different structures of land ownership, and thus very different forms of government and social responsibility. The seventeenth-century English surveyor William Petty was the first man to recognise the connection between private property and free-market capitalism; the American radical Wolf Ladejinsky redistributed land in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea after the Second World War to make possible the emergence of Asian tiger economies.
Through the eyes of these remarkable individuals and many more, including Chinese emperors and German peasants, Andro Linklater here presents the evolution of land ownership to offer a radically new view of mankind's place on the planet.


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From the author of the acclaimed Measuring America, a dazzling chronicle of how, throughout history and across cultures, land ownership has shaped modern society

Masterly ... His intellectual range is as wide as his geographic or temporal range, spanning from Hobbes to Greenspan and including philosophers, politicians, religious figures and academics; an extensive notes section and bibliography allow readers to further pursue his source ideas. By focusing on land ownership, the emphasis in historical interpretation shifts from economics to politics, giving a much different perspective. This reinterpretation of global history will give readers of history, politics, and economics much to think about Publishers Weekly

Andro Linklater was the acclaimed author of Measuring America, The Fabric of America, An Artist in Treason, and Why Spencer Perceval Had to Die. He lived in England.

General Fields

  • : 9781408815748
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : January 2014
  • : 234mm X 153mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : January 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Andro Linklater
  • : Hardback
  • : 333.309
  • : 496