Free the Land: The Root Cause of Inequality and the Fight for a Better Future

St. Martin’s. Jun. 2024. 320p. ISBN 9781250275189. $30. SOC SCI
Journalist Lim (editor, The World We Need) argues that many issues in the United States—inequality, gentrification, climate change—can be linked to the aim to make landownership profitable. She explores the history of inequitable landownership practices in the country, focusing on farming, urban development, and environmentalism. Her book shows that landownership in the United States is overwhelmingly white and corporate, and people who cannot afford to buy, or are priced out of their neighborhoods as property values rise, are shut out. Lim also looks at alternate models of landownership, such as community land trusts, public lands, and cooperative models, many of which reflect practices from Indigenous peoples and Black communities and are often discounted for racist reasons. She gives examples of these models in practice today and weighs their advantages and disadvantages. Cooperative ownership models, which reflect the interest and desires of the community, are favored by many, although Lim urges that care be taken to avoid replicating inequities.
VERDICT A fascinating look at alternative landownership practices. Recommended for readers interested in economics, the environment, and issues of inequality.
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