Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World

Simon Winchester. Harper, $29.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-293833-6
Winchester (The Perfectionists) probes “humankind’s approach to the possession of the world’s surface” in this eclectic account. Using his purchase of 123 forested acres in New York’s Berkshire Mountains as a launching point, Winchester explores the geological history of the planet (he notes that New England formed one billion years ago in the Southern Hemisphere) and the legal, cultural, and social issues related to land use and ownership. He details the decades-long creation of Flevoland, a province in the Netherlands built entirely on land reclaimed from the North Sea, attributing Dutch communalism and consensus-driven policymaking to the fact that much of the country is below sea level. Winchester also details debates over indigenous land rights in America and Australia, and notes that Australian mining magnate Lang Hancock, whose daughter, Gina Rinehart, is now the world’s largest private landowner with 29 million acres under her control, once suggested that unemployed aboriginal Australians should be sterilized. Winchester amasses a wealth of intriguing factoids and arcana, though readers looking for a comprehensive overview of the subject will be disappointed. Still, this is an entertaining and erudite roundup of humanity’s ever-evolving relationship with terra firma. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, WME (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 10/08/2020
Release date: 01/19/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 464 pages - 978-0-06-293835-0
MP3 CD - 978-1-7999-4762-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-7999-4761-5
Paperback - 688 pages - 978-0-06-306301-3
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