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A powerful examination of how property shaped the modern world – and why it now threatens the freedoms and stability it was meant to sustain.
Property carries a great promise: that it will make you rich and set you free. But it is also a weapon, an agent of displacement and exploitation, the currency of kleptocrats and oligarchs. In Britain, it has led to a new class division between those who own and those who don’t.
Property is a vivid, far-reaching analysis of our concept of property ownership, from 16th-century enclosures to the present day. It tells powerful stories – of life in the developer-led boomtown of Gurgaon in India, of the struggles to form Black communities in Missouri and Georgia, of a giant experiment in co-operative living in the Bronx, of the impacts of Margaret Thatcher’s “property-owning democracy.”
Above all, Property asks how we have come to view our homes as investments – and it offers hope for how things could be better, with reform that might enable the social wealth of property to be returned to society.
Rowan Moore is funny and insightful as he sets out on a mission to liberate us from the madness of our fatal addiction to property . . . Read him and you will never look at estate agent’s window the same way again . . . An urgent message for all those who care about the way that we can live together.
Rowan Moore’s wide-ranging and readable book is an essential read for anyone interested in the ideas and interests that have shaped property and its preeminent impact on our modern world. With examples across the globe, his always judicious account acknowledges both its benefits and costs but ultimately reminds us that it is – or should be – a means not an end, one whose possession (in common or private) should secure our social well-being, not obstruct it.
An invaluable contribution to the pressing debate about the role and purpose of property which underpins the way we live today.
Rowan Moore's fabulous new book tells the sorry tale of UK Government’s mismanagement of the land economy . . . He argues really convincingly for an interventionist Government . . . A timely book.
Rowan Moore's Property: The Myth that Built the World is an absorbing and enriching read. Moore steps well back from real estate hysteria to revisit and question the fundamental theory and practice of property. He seeks out examples not only of the terrible abuses that property has motivated, but also of cases where well-motivated alternatives show glimpses of potential better ways.
The themes of sovereignty and dominance explored in Rowan Moore’s latest book skilfully threads his argument from Baku in Azerbaijan to Gurugram in northern India to Las Vegas and, inevitably, to Britain’s dysfunctional housing market. Moore situates property where it belongs — in the centre of virtually every aspect of our lives . . . His authority comes from his undogmatic ability to consider numerous angles.
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