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This Land Is Our Land: How We Lost the Right to Roam and How to Take It Back
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This Land Is Our Land: How We Lost the Right to Roam and How to Take It Back

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  206 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Private property is everywhere. Almost anywhere you walk in the United States, you will spot "No Trespassing" and "Private Property" signs on trees and fence posts. In America, there are more than a billion acres of grassland pasture, cropland, and forest, and miles and miles of coastlines that are mostly closed off to the public. Meanwhile, America's public lands are thre ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 10th 2018 by Plume Books
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Sep 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting book, covers many sides of the “right to roam” argument and ramifications well. I feel much better informed.

But I do have some advice, Mr. Ilgunas. You need a brand. A graphic. A logo. Something that grassroots Americans can put on t-shirts and plaster on social media. I went to the web and tried to look up a sign that I could buy to post on my property (we, two thirty-somethings with five kids, own 43 acres, 14 of which are pretty wild woods), but I couldn’t find anything. I want a
Ilgunas has incorporated a tapestry of legal and literary references for the heartiest advocates—we can make our land more free to roam!
Rachel Lloyd
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thought I knew a lot about the policy and law of the outdoor world in the United States, but this book was a game changer.
Although it was definitely entertaining, it still took me a while to get through this book (especially considering it was only a bit over 200 pages). But I’m so very glad that I stuck it out and finished reading this book.
I’ve read a lot of books about the outdoors in the past two years, but I think I learned the most from this one.
I’d like to expand, just for a moment,
Letitia Moffitt
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A thoughtful and informative argument for the idea that Americans should have the freedom to roam our own lands. I like these ideas very much, though sadly I suspect the author will have an impossibly difficult struggle seeing them to fruition given the current political climate. Regardless, an interesting read.
Chris LaTray
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
I read a lot of walking books, and this is one of the good ones. I wish Americans could buy into this idea, but I get depressed considering the reach it would require. As Ilgunas writes toward the end of the book, "Only a society that walks will fight for the right to walk." I don't think the United States is anywhere near that.

I recently cut through Glacier Park as the quickest route from the east side of it to the west side. Traffic was unbelievable. An impatient jackass in a gigantic SUV was
Alex Kudera
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed his memoirs / travel narratives Walden on Wheels and Trespassing Across America more than this one. I can't think of another book-length argument I've read recently, so I'm uncertain of what I should have expected. As has been stated by at least one other reviewer, it is hard to imagine implementation of a "right to roam" in America today or in the near future. Right now, we're at a place where we can't even come to agreement on the facts, never mind positions to take on them. Anyway, ...more
Robert Wechsler
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I had questions at first, but those questions mostly fell by the wayside as I went further into this American book about the right to roam (or, in the better but less catchy Scottish version, “the right of responsible access”), what it means, how it has been applied in other countries (and in early America), the law in the U.S., and what it might take to give Americans the right to roam, especially locally and at the state level. My biggest problem with the book is how it downplays insurance. Il ...more
Kate Harris
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ken Ilgunas' first two books—the pioneering #vanlife memoir WALDEN ON WHEELS and epic Keystone pipeline travelogue TRESPASSING ACROSS AMERICA—elevated the act of veering out of bounds into an art (making him a man after my own heart). His new book, THIS LAND IS OUR LAND, elegantly builds on this theme with a passionate and persuasive ode to roaming. Reading it will radically change how you see private property in North America, and just might inspire you out the door and over the fence yourself. ...more
Cathy Douglas
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting idea here, that we should be able to walk on anyone's private property. I can't imagine it happening, and to be honest, I don't really want the neighbors in the back yard.

I had no idea British and Scandinavian countries had a "right to roam," meaning that, within certain restrictions, people can walk wherever they want -- including private property. Also, depending on where, they can camp, make fires, fish and hunt on other people's private property. This book proposes similar laws
Tony Allevato
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
This book is a beautiful discussion on "The Right to Roam", and its significance.
From a literary view, this book holds true to the nonfiction genre by being thoroughly researched, very informative, and entertaining to read. Ilgunas writes passionately about a subject he clearly cares deeply for while remaining objective and avoiding extrapolation from the data referenced in the book.

While I appreciate when someone identifies a problem that needs to be corrected, I simply love it when they also c
bibliotekker Holman
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the more revelatory books I have read in a long time. As someone who likes to roam, I have always struggled living in a state where the irony is tons of open space locked up in exclusionary forms of private property. I wasn't aware something different was possible in the U.S. where private property is religion and god.

The author details regimes in other parts of the world that allow for more equitable use as well as possible avenues for the U.S. to follow that could help both the landed
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In brief: The Right to Roam is the idea that people should be allowed access to visit and walk through privately held but unimproved land.
There are more immediate and important issues facing this country - something the author recognizes. But the ideas underlying The Right to Roam are Central to how we need to think about ourselves as a society. Are we solitary individuals out for ourselves? Are we a mindless mass? Or are we a community of individuals? My money is on a society of individuals wi
M. J.
Dec 23, 2017 marked it as to-read
Ken Ilgunas is a travel descriptive writer, and this novel reveals how activism can be written about during the experience of a hike along a controversial pipeline across the heartland of America.

I understand how capitalism rules America, but after completing this novel, I ask the question why can't the oil in the Tarsands region be refined and kept on the Canadian Continent for everyone in the America's to use?

Either way, the novel reveals to other wannabe writers of travel is to seek travel a
Michelle Ewen
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ken Ilgunas returns with this robust and scholarly work advocating for the right to roam in America. A thorough and balanced exploration of the key issues surrounding property ownership, Ilgunas argues eloquently for urgent action to tackle the burgeoning crisis in the recreation.

A hearty cry to ignore those trespassing signs and boldly reclaim so-called private land, this work nevertheless champions responsible access while reminding us of our ethical and ecological duty to protect our natural
David  Robertson
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting topic, not widely covered anywhere else. I love Walden on Wheels so much and hope Ken's next book he will cover his adventures from his point of view. Good eye opening facts, but a little dry at times and reads a bit like a textbook. I did learn a lot, but was a little rougher getting through than his other two excellent books, Walden on Wheels, and Trespassing Across America. Keep 'em coming Ken! ...more
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: society
Whether it's roaming, rambling, walking, or hiking, the public lands in the US are more restricted than most countries. This is a great insight into social and cultural norms around public space, private lands, and trespassing. As an avid outdoors adventurer, I thought this was a valid reminder that we need to be more mindful about the open air, green space, and wilderness not only in national/state parks but also in our communities and neighborhoods where we live. ...more
Thomas Elpel
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Freedom to Roam is a topic I am very passionate about, and I’ve written some essays about it as well, so the book jumped to the top of my reading pile. I wish it were required reading for all Americans to better understand how we all formerly owned the right to roam the open countryside! I could easily buy this book by the case to gift to friends and family. I just started reading it a second time!
Jean Dupenloup
May 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting concept by Ken Ilgunas, who makes a passionate argument for what he calls the right to roam (basically granting access to all land for everyone regardless of ownership.)

His reasoning is sound and seems possible based on the other countries that have adopted this policy.

Could it ever take root in the United States, among a people who practically worship the idea of private property?

I strongly doubt it.

It’s a nice dream and a decent read nonetheless!
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very impressive compilation of personal stories, news stories and references. Made me reflect on where I live in Southern Saskatchewan Canada and how much I value exploring my neighbours property as well as hunting on their property. I hope in Canada it doesn’t become like the nightmare of private property it is in the states.
Sep 19, 2019 rated it liked it
If not for the brief but completely unnecessary digressions about mental health and the immorality of existing in my own body, I would’ve described this as “mildly stirring.” The central thesis is easy to agree with if overly optimistic. Not enough time is spent on the race and gender obstacles to roaming, in my opinion.
Megan Brady
Mar 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I recommend the audiobook version. I tried to read it, but couldn’t get through it, but as an audiobook it can be a quick read. Wow. This book made me think a lot about our private/public lands. My husband and I discussed the ideas in this book everyday while I was listening to it because I couldn’t keep the ideas to myself.
Kasey Lawson
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
“Along these lines, agrarian philosopher Wendall Berry said, “A proper community is a commonwealth: a place, a resource, an economy. It answers the needs, practical as well as social and spiritual, of its members—among them the need to need one another.”
Michal Angelo
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
* My introduction to Ilgunas was his work "Tresspassing Across America", an insightful and witty account of his adventure.
* A seemingly active activist, this volume is less about adventure and more about political science
* I set this book aside to move onto a different topic
Richard Erney
Jan 21, 2019 rated it liked it
I was intrigued by the topic but probably won’t actually finish this book. I’m certainly behind the notion of the right to roam and not allowing private interests to deny access to our public spaces and federal lands. I’m just not sure that I need a couple of hundred pages to convince me.
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a solid book that details its topic in a concise and intelligent way. Whether you have interest in this topic or not, I highly recommend you take a moment to look at this book. It’s not a long read and it’s well done.
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-of-2018
To roam is not merely to walk. To roam is to explore. To roam is to blaze our own trail and find our own way. Roaming is an act of nonconformity, of independence, of self-reliance.
Ilya Plotkin
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really good read.
Katharine Rudzitis
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Compelling review of how the USA’s attitude toward private land has changed and what we could do to improve access.
Apr 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: junk
Damn the dark skinned primates trying to get away from war, Ilgunas has a hard time moving in a straight line like the wombat!
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
Lots of facts and figures, numbers and percentages, dates and laws, and comparisons between countries, but what it lacked was story. It could have been so much better with a compelling story.
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Ken Ilgunas was born in Ontario, and raised in Wheatfield -- a small town in western New York where his family still lives. At the moment, he's either tending a friend's garden in Stokes County, North Carolina, or traveling cross-country in his van. ...more

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