RHODcast: Feb 25, 2021

Land – Simon Winchester

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When it comes to buying a home, one of the most time consuming and befuddling processes we must endure is the title search. This ensures that whoever we buy from truly has the right to sell the home and, more importantly, the parcel of ground on which it stands.

Yet it was not always so. The Maori and the traditional inhabitants of North America, for example, got along perfectly well, perhaps better, without owning one square foot of land. Trust a Briton, John Locke, to throw open the gates for generations of estate agents and realtors to come by declaring, in the late 18th century, that “it was man’s Christian duty not just to own land, but to improve it.”

Saving us the trouble of reading Locke in the original, the journalist and author Simon Winchester goes on to show what a matter of both grief and greed land ownership has been to humankind. With stops in England, Scotland, Scandinavia, New Zealand, Australia, Oregon, Oklahoma and beyond, Simon takes me through the tearstained history of Land.

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