John C. Weaver
Appropriation and distribution of land transformed North America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The Great Land Rush and the Making of the Modern World integrates the often violent history of European colonization and the ensuing emergence of property rights with an exploration of the growth of democracy and the market economy. In the tradition of Guns, Germs, and Steel, John Weaver reveals what lies behind our acceptance of the right to unlimited material wealth. He underscores the tragic history of the indigenous peoples of these regions and how they lost "possession" of their lands. He argues that the enormous effort to reallocate newly carved-out parcels of property during the Great Land Rush led to an idea of property rights that was marked by a complete disregard for previous notions of restraint on material possibility. That legacy continues to drive the West's insatiable thirst for economic growth, newer forms of economic colonization of underdeveloped countries, and continuing evolution in concepts of property rights, including the increasing importance of intellectual property rights.