Harvard Book Store welcomes award-winning author HOWARD MANSFIELD for a discussion of his latest book, The Habit of Turning the World Upside Down: Our Belief in Property and the Cost of That Belief.
About The Habit of Turning the World Upside Down
While reporting on citizens fighting natural gas pipelines and transmission lines planned to cut right across their homes, Howard Mansfield saw the emotional toll of these projects. “They got under the skin,” writes Mansfield. “This was about more than kilowatts, powerlines, and pipelines. Something in this upheaval felt familiar. I began to realize that I was witnessing an essential American experience: the world turned upside down. And it all turned on one word: property.”
In The Habit of Turning the World Upside Down, we meet a dairy farmer in far northern New Hampshire who refuses $4 million from Hydro-Quebec for his land, and we meet a Massachusetts family whose two acres may be subsumed by a gas pipeline. We see property in its many guises. We walk with the Tohono O’odham in the Sonoran Desert. We visit a small Maine island and stand where the water will be rising in just a few years as the planet warms. There are historic moments, too: a stubby granite monument in the woods of New Hampshire that tells of the death of feudalism in the New World; the buried history of a Vermont farmer who suicides as his life is bulldozed under for the new interstate; and there’s great reform push that gave us the glorious and precarious Weeks Act which saved the White Mountains and gave us national forests east of the Mississippi.
Certain books were “banned in Boston” at least as far back as 1651, when one William Pynchon wrote a book criticizing Puritanism.