cover image The Land Grabbers: The New Fight Over Who Owns the Earth

The Land Grabbers: The New Fight Over Who Owns the Earth

Fred Pearce. Beacon, $27.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8070-0324-4

In the latest by environmental journalist Pearce (When the Rivers Run Dry), politics and human rights take center stage. Bouncing around the globe, Pearce analyzes the practices of “land grabbers”—outsiders contentiously acquiring large-scale land rights—and exposes their often heavy-handed tactics. Whether in Tanzania, Australia, or Kenya, Pearce shows how land grabbers displace natives who have lived there for generations and who receive little or no help from national laws. Through personal interviews and stories, Pearce reveals how governments often work on the side of big corporations, with a “casual indifference to people’s rights.” As he makes clear, it’s dangerous to pretend that big commercial farming has any interest in feeding the world. His survey also extends beyond land grabbing, such as in a chapter dealing with the Chicago Board of Trade, which focuses on the evils of market speculators and day traders. While readers will find the lives and tribulations of uprooted natives captivating and troubling, the fact that these incidents are not localized to the Third World is part of Pearce’s message. Unfortunately the narrative becomes repetitive, resulting in the feeling of reading the same story over and over again. Agent: Jessica Woollard, the Marsh Agency. (May)