The Land We Share: Private Property and the Common Good

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9781559638906: The Land We Share: Private Property and the Common Good

Is private ownership an inviolate right that individuals can wield as they see fit? Or is it better understood in more collective terms, as an institution that communities reshape over time to promote evolving goals? What should it mean to be a private landowner in an age of sprawling growth and declining biological diversity?

These provocative questions lie at the heart of this perceptive and wide-ranging new book by legal scholar and conservationist Eric Freyfogle. Bringing together insights from history, law, philosophy, and ecology, Freyfogle undertakes a fascinating inquiry into the ownership of nature, leading us behind publicized and contentious disputes over open-space regulation, wetlands protection, and wildlife habitat to reveal the foundations of and changing ideas about private ownership in America.

Drawing upon ideas from Thomas Jefferson, Henry George, and Aldo Leopold and interweaving engaging accounts of actual disputes over land-use issues, Freyfogle develops a powerful vision of what private ownership in America could mean—an ownership system, fair to owners and taxpayers alike, that fosters healthy land and healthy economies.

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About the Author:

Eric T. Freyfogle is editor of The New Agrarianism (Island Press, 2001) and author of the award-winning Bounded People, Boundless Lands (Island Press, 1998). A widely published scholar, particularly on natural resources, property, and wildlife law, he has for two decades taught law and environmental policy at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Review:

"The Land We Share is an extraordinarily lucid and creative analysis that clears the fog that has descended on issues of property ownership and rights. This is essential reading." (David W. Orr author of The Nature of Design)

"What does it mean to own land? No one has thought more deeply or written more lucidly about this question than Eric Freyfogle. He brings to the discussion a sure knowledge of American history and law, a keen awareness of our ecological predicament, and a lively tongue." (Scott Russell Sanders author of Hunting for Hope and The Force of Spirit)

"Freyfogle's argument that private property is an organic, natural entity that has evolved from age to age—not a static concept bound by immutable laws—comes just in time for a renewed debate on the subject. Goodness knows we need some fresh thinking on the matter, and Freyfogle has supplied it." (John Hanson Mitchell author of Trespassing: An Inquiry into the Private Ownership)

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