Reading: A Burglar’s Guide to the City

I’ve been a fan of Geoff Manaugh’s BLDGBLOG for a years – his intelligent look at the world from a very particular architectural perspective makes it one of those blogs that leaves you feeling a little bit smarter after every visit. His post Nakatomi Space , which reappraises Die Hard as one of the all time great films about architecture, radically altered the way I read films and buildings.

That piece pops up again in A Burglar’s Guide to the City, Manaugh's entertaining and insightful exploration of how city and crime are shaped by one another. It’s filled with anecdotes from both sides of the law and across history. There's the 19th century architect and socialite who was at one time responsible for 80 percent of all bank robberies in the US; the burglar who lived inside a Toys R Us for months, setting up his own surveillance network using baby monitors; the inventor who developed a material so sturdy and impenetrable that his panic rooms may well be the last architectural structures left standing long after the collapse of civilisation.

It’s an absolutely cracking read, and well worth dipping your nose into even if your aren’t planning any heists in the foreseeable future – although by the end of it you may well be tempted.