A huge part of our economy is invisible, invaluable, and highly vulnerable. "The Commons" is a generic term that denotes everything we share, our entire life support system, both natural and social. Some parts of the commons are gifts of nature: the air and oceans, the web of species, wilderness and flowing water. Others are the product of human creativity and endeavor: sidewalks and public squares, the stories of childhood, language, customs and traditions. But they all “belong” to all of us, if that is the word. No one has exclusive rights. We inherit them jointly and hold them in trust for those who come after us. This concise, comprehensive work examines the history and tragic neglect of the commons and offers pragmatic advice for strengthening and protecting it at a time when privatization and control are economic mantras. It is both reflective and practical, exploring the complex but vital relationship of the commons to the market and the state and the importance of the commons in the modern world.