An intriguing exploration of pioneering research in natural resource management and the economist who led it.



A professor of natural resources management and economics explores the work of Elinor Ostrom (1933-2012), the first woman to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, for her work focused on the governance of commons.

As Nordman notes, the term commons (also known as common-pool resources) refers to goods that can be depleted if overused but which are difficult to exclude people from using, such as water, fish, and land. Prior to Ostrom’s work, the methods for managing commons were largely influenced by the work of ecologist Garrett Hardin. In his 1968 essay, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” he argued that overpopulation was a large part of the problem and believed that the only ways in which common-pool resources could be properly managed were through market forces or governmental regulation. Ostrom felt that there was another way. Based on her research, she argued that communities were capable of solving their own resource problems without restrictions or government intervention. In this compelling work, Nordman explores numerous examples that support Ostrom’s claim, such as the coordination of groundwater withdrawals in Los Angeles, the formation of “lobster gangs” in Maine, and the ancient water court in Valencia, Spain. “Each Thursday at noon,” writes the author, “as they have for the last one thousand years, members of this unique court conduct a public hearing in which they resolve disputes over irrigation water.” As Ostrom noted, institutions that have successfully managed their communal resources tend to follow a recognizable pattern. These principles emerge organically through community interactions over time, and those institutions that do not succeed are frequently missing one or more of these principles. In clear language, Nordman details and examines these principles and communities that have successfully adopted them. He also shares details of his interviews with members of other communities that have created collaborative systems for sharing their resources.

An intriguing exploration of pioneering research in natural resource management and the economist who led it.

Pub Date: July 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64283-155-9

Page Count: 275

Publisher: Island Press

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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The choir is sure to enjoy this impassioned preaching on familiar progressive themes.


Essays on current political topics by a high-profile actor and activist.

Milano explains in an introduction that she began writing this uneven collection while dealing with a severe case of Covid-19 and suffering from "persistent brain fog.” In the first essay, "On Being Unapologetically Fucked Up,” the author begins by fuming over a February 2019 incident in which she compared MAGA caps worn by high school kids to KKK hoods. She then runs through a grab bag of flash-point news items (police shootings, border crimes, sexual predators in government), deploying the F-bomb with abandon and concluding, "What I know is that fucked up is as fundamental a state of the world as night and day. But I know there is better. I know that ‘less fucked up’ is a state we can live in.” The second essay, "Believe Women," discusses Milano’s seminal role in the MeToo movement; unfortunately, it is similarly conversational in tone and predictable in content. One of the few truly personal essays, "David," about the author's marriage, refutes the old saw about love meaning never having to say you're sorry, replacing it with "Love means you can suggest a national sex strike and your husband doesn't run away screaming." Milano assumes, perhaps rightly, that her audience is composed of followers and fans; perhaps these readers will know what she is talking about in the seemingly allegorical "By Any Other Name," about her bad experience with a certain rosebush. "Holy shit, giving birth sucked," begins one essay. "Words are weird, right?" begins the next. "Welp, this is going to piss some of you off. Hang in there," opens a screed about cancel culture—though she’s entirely correct that “it’s childish, divisive, conceited, and Trumpian to its core.” By the end, however, Milano's intelligence, compassion, integrity, and endurance somewhat compensate for her lack of literary polish.

The choir is sure to enjoy this impassioned preaching on familiar progressive themes.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18329-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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