Land Grab by the government — A growing problem

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Article Type: 
Book Review
Published Date: 
Saturday, June 27, 2015

A small but explosive book was recently published by a Macon, Georgia, author that deserves close perusal not only in Middle Georgia but all of America. The book is Land Grab — How Our Country Can Grab Your Land Without Paying a Fair Price (2014) by Alan H. Preston, who like his brother, uncle, and father, has a degree in Forestry (from the University of Georgia).  His parents, Druid and Carol Preston, have been our good friends and neighbors in Macon for nearly 30 years.

Land Grab by Alan PrestonIn the first part of his book, Alan recounts the poignant story of how his grandfather, Abb Preston, after working and improving his land in west Georgia for many years, lost sizeable tracts of property to the federal government during the expansion of Fort Benning in 1941. Abb was a patriotic citizen and did not question the need for expansion of the military base just before the onset of World War II. What shocked him and his young sons, Druid and Richard, was the way they were treated and the forceful taking of Abb’s property without fair and just compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I prefer to let the readers find out for themselves the disturbing details of this story by reading Alan’s eloquent book.

Amendment V of the U.S. constitution reads:

...nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The second part of the book begins by narrating the story of Bob L. Mullis, who was the feisty grandfather of Alan’s wife Margaret (Margo), who successfully fought the Macon City Council against take over of his property and kept his Saf-T-Oil business in Macon in 1986. This story serves as a launching pad for Alan to describe his research of how eminent domain and environmentalism have been abused throughout the United States, not only by the federal government, but particularly municipal governments to seize the lawful property of citizens in violation of private property rights, essential prerogatives of free citizens in preserving their liberty and pursuing happiness. The taking clause of the Fifth Amendment has been abused to seize property not only without just compensation but also for the wrong reasons. Not only timberland and beachfront owners have lost their property but also humble citizens have lost their homes by private developers in cahoots with local city councils, who covet well-situated real estate and increased tax revenues, respectively. Alan not only exposes these abuses but also reveals sources of assistance to victimized property owners and proposes solutions based on his research as well as his father’s property and forestry experience. Get his book (available at the Golden Bough bookstore in downtown Macon) and read it!

Written by: Dr. Miguel Faria

Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D. is Clinical Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery, ret.) and Adjunct Professor of Medical History (ret.) Mercer University School of Medicine. He is an Associate Editor in Chief and a World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International (SNI), and an Ex-member of the Injury Research Grant Review Committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2002-05; Former Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Sentinel (1996-2002), Editor Emeritus, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS); Author, Vandals at the Gates of Medicine (1995); Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine (1997); and Cuba in Revolution: Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002). 

This article, a review of Land Grab — How Our Country Can Grab Your Land Without Paying a Fair Price (2014) by Alan H. Preston, can be cited as: Faria MA. Land Grab by the government — A growing problem., June 27, 2015. Available from:

This article also appeared in the Macon Telegraph on June 30, 2015.

Copyright ©2015 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., MD

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Comments on this post

Eminent domain forum

Dave Oedel (Mercer Law School): Politicians are very reluctant these days to use the eminent domain power, worried about reactions like this. It's probably a good thing that politicians are wary about using this power, but sometimes modest takings can enhance property values, for example for bike paths and the like, but politicians will simply not do it. Road building days are now largely over -- another result of the public reaction against over-use of the takings power. We probably have enough roads already, but again, there are situations in which new roads could be useful.

Some balance in the exercise of the takings power makes sense to me. But that's not an excuse for threatening its use to take the Wilson Electric property in Macon -- the only viable business at that intersection. In situations like that, the politicians who would bully people into giving up their property are exposed for being tyrants -- bullies wielding the cudgel of law. Outrageous. Equally outrageous is using the former exercise of the power, resulting in a broader-than-necessary right of way, to destroy property values along Forest Hill Road for no good reason. With Jim Sandefur, I have come to the personal conclusion that politicians should not be trusted to exercise this power unless the circumstances are exceptional.

Jim Sandefur (Lizella, Georgia): Good column. Eminent domain should only be used as a last resort for something that is absolutely necessary and when used payment should be more than fair market price. The unnecessary use of eminent domain and the no-knock search warrant are two of the worst violations of a citizen's rights in this country and if were weren't such lazy, passive people we wouldn't stand for it.

Emory Lane (Georgia Southern University): The SCOTUS' decision in Kelo v. City of New London was quite a shock and sickened me.

Dave Oedel: The notion that a taking for a "public" use includes favoring big business is par for the course these days, sorry to say, thanks in part to our bought-and-paid-for politicians, K Street in general, and entities like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I'm sickened too, just not shocked.

Richard Elliott (Mercer University School of Medicine): Dr. Faria, I would add that it was [Senator] Cecil Staton who authored SB 5 several years ago, that would have given the right of imminent domain to private developers. After The Telegraph published an editorial, Staton denied knowledge of how this entered his bill, and it was withdrawn. Luckily for us.

Leon Trotsky - bizarre but true source of quote

One of the most bizarre quotes in my book was unique because it came from an unlikely source, Leon Trotsky on pages 172-173. Referring to him as a strong advocate for property rights was likely a mistake. However, he did say it. He had been a devout Communist, but he described the state's renewed power in manner that caught the eyes of many libertarians. I referenced Leon Trotsky from page 309 in Tom Bethell's book, The Noblest Triumph.