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Who Owns the World: The Surprising Truth About Every Piece of Land on the Planet Paperback – January 29, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Kevin Cahill was born in the Irish Republic, and now lives in Devon, in the UK, with his wife. They have three daughters. A former army officer, Kevin has worked in the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the Irish Parliament, and the European Parliament as an adviser and researcher. He is the author of a number of books on business, trade, and landownership and was a researcher on the original Sunday Times Rich List.


Rob McMahon is a freelance writer and editor with more than fifteen years experience in book publishing.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (January 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446581216
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446581219
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #944,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd VINE VOICE on February 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
The premise for this work is good: of all the world's land surface, who really owns all the various bits of it? Clearly land ownership is not equitably distributed; some own much more than others. This book presents reams of statistics about land ownership in just about every country and territory in the world, and most of these numbers have been well researched and are as good a set of numbers as you are likely to see, given that some countries have almost zero real data collection processes about these matters, and many more are in such a state of inner turmoil that determining who 'owns' what is a frustrating and near-meaningless endeavor.

But this book is marred by a major flaw, that of trying to impose the author's particular feelings on how land ownership should be dealt with, rather than investigating the reasons and history of how it is currently set up, and just how the world economies are very dependent on such distribution. In the first chapter, the author continuously points out that there is plenty of land for everybody, several acres for every man, woman, and child on the planet, and that if only such a equal distribution could be achieved, all the worlds troubles would go away. While it is certainly true that many of the world's wars have been over ownership of particular pieces of land, what this author misses are several facts:

1. Large portions of the world's surface, while technically marginally habitable, in reality will not support any type of heavy-density human presence.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By My Four Monkeys blog on January 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
Ever wonder who owns the world? Do you or someone you know enjoy reading about history and little known facts? Then you would definitely be interested in a new book I received from Hachette Books. It's entitled Who Owns the World: The Surprising Truth About Every Piece of Land on the Planet and it's 384 pages of interesting and sometimes surprising facts from author Kevin Cahill.

This is a pretty thick book, but like many resource books, I don't think it is necessarily meant to be read from cover to cover. It features listings of all the major countries in the world, and all the states of the United States. Each listing contains facts and figures about land ownership, but also background information about how the piece of land was originally procured or confiscated. I truly found the background information very interesting. Especially when it came to the states of the U.S., it was very educational to find out just how the government came to own these pieces of land. I will be using this book to go along with some of our homeschooling curriculum. I was shocked to discover how much property that Queen Elizabeth II owned! There are so many British commonwealths and territories all around the world!

I also enjoyed comparing and contrasting the different countries. I know.... I'm a nerd. :) For instance, Alaska is about the size of the country of Iran (every country or territory listed also has a the country closest in size listed with it for easy comparison) and has about 670 acres per person. Iran on the other hand has only has 6 acres per person. Some of these countries are horribly crowded, like India with only 0.7 acres per person! In a country that large, can you imagine such a large population?
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Van Loon on January 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Who Owns The World? The Surprising Truth About Every Piece of Land on The Planet is an encyclopedic accounting of land ownership on our globe. It is packed with fascinating facts: Did you know that Queen Elizabeth owns 1/6th of all the land on earth? Did you know that the largest private landowner in the U.S. is Ted Turner, who owns 1,800,000 acres of land? (Yes, all those zeroes belong in that number.) Have you ever heard of the British Indian Ocean Territory, a land area of 14,720 acres which is now believed to be used as a prison for those captured in the war on terror?

Though most of the 369-page paperback is devoted to information about who controls every square inch of land, authors Kevin Cahill and Rob McMahon explain their purpose in putting this book together:
This book asserts that the main cause of most remaining poverty in the world is an excess of landownership in too few hands. This book will also assert that private ownership of a very small amount on land - one-tenth of an urban acre or an acre or two of rural land - granted to every person on the planet has the potential to, and, I believe, begin ending poverty on a global basis. The book will go further and reassert that the right to the direct ownership of land is a fundamental human right.

After a 60-page introduction that unpacks these assertions, the remainder of the book surveys every country of the world, giving information about population, size, gross national income, percentage of land held by private owners, a line or two about the country's history, and an explanation of how the country is owned.
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