That Disturbing Devil

Ferdinand Mount

  • BuyOwning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Ownership by Andro Linklater
    Bloomsbury, 482 pp, £20.00, January 2014, ISBN 978 1 4088 1574 8

In this case, the elephant is the room. There can be few enormous subjects more often dodged than the space we occupy on the surface of the earth. Land ownership – its many modes, its distribution, its history – is the great ignored in politics today, gingerly taken up if at all and quickly put down again in favour of more fashionable topics: capitalism, urbanisation, democracy, industrialisation, the role of the state. The question ‘Who owns the land?’ has a musty aroma to it.

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