- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: FSG Originals (5 April 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0374117268
- ISBN-13: 978-0374117269
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,20,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Burglar's Guide to the City Paperback – 5 Apr 2016
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“This is a marvelous wonder-room of a thing, an intricate, deeply researched, and brilliantly written mad scientist’s tour of crime and how it’s bound to the world we’ve built. Revealing, spectacular, and riveting.” ―Warren Ellis, author of Gun Machine and The Planetary Omnibus
“This burglar’s guide isn’t for ordinary smash and grab burglars, it’s for the rest of us―who like to steal in, steal out, and get away with glorious dreams. A spectacularly fun read.” ―Robert Krulwich, co-host of Radiolab
“Murphy’s Law―anything that can go wrong will go wrong―is especially true for architecture. Geoff Manaugh’s liaisons with burglars and bank robbers reveal unexplored niches and loopholes in our cities, and through the eyes of urban hackers we find new possibilities for reinterpreting the built environment. A Burglar’s Guide to the City shows that architecture is too important to leave to just the architects.” ―Bjarke Ingels, BIG Architects
“Who knew urban studies could be so riveting? Geoff Manaugh excels at finding new, illicit, and fresh angles on a subject as loved as it is overexposed―the city. In his new book, elegant, perverse, sinuous supervillains maneuver and master the city like parkour champions. I see the TV series already.” ―Paola Antonelli, MoMA
“Reading Geoff Manaugh is like donning night-vision goggles at the edge of a dark forest―you are suddenly aware of, and alive to, a world that was always there but occluded. A Burglar’s Guide to the City is a crackerjack intellectual caper.” ―Tom Vanderbilt, New York Times bestselling author of You May Also Like and Traffic
“Despite its title, Geoff Manaugh's A Burglar's Guide to the City won't teach you how to break into houses. It won't help you outsmart wily cat burglars with ingenious home alarm systems, either. Instead, it explores something a lot weirder and more interesting: Manaugh argues that burglary is built into the fabric of cities and is an inevitable outgrowth of having architecture in the first place.” ―Annalee Newitz, Los Angeles Times
“An exhilarating, perspective-shifting read.” ―Patrick Lyons, VICE
“For years, Geoff Manaugh has entertained and fascinated us with his BLDGBLOG, and now he's even better at full-length, with A Burglar's Guide to the City, a multidisciplinary, eclectic, voraciously readable book that views architecture, built environments, and cities themselves through the lens of breaking-and-entering... Manaugh's work is characteristically far-ranging and eclectic, and always fascinating... Come for the true crime, stay for the education in architecture and urban planning.” ―Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
“Intriguing... a surprising and fascinating true-crime epic.” ―BBC
“I cannot think of a more informed, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable tour guide through the historical and contemporary intersection of burglary and architecture than Geoff Manaugh. A Burglar’s Guide to the City makes disparate connections seem obvious in hindsight, and my worldview is altered a little bit more, and far for the better, as a result.” ―Sarah Weinman, Barnes & Noble Review
“Geoff Manaugh’s A Burglar’s Guide to the City gives the realm of architecture the kinetic thrills of a heist film.” ―Alex Bozikovic, The Globe and Mail
“Architecture blogger Geoff Manaugh’s fascinating book A Burglar’s Guide to The City posits that our living and working spaces, no matter how seemingly secure, are proving grounds for small-time crooks and sophisticated criminals alike; a smart thief will calibrate his routine based on the way a specific structure is designed. Manaugh’s book locates the spot where architecture and crime intersect.” ―Marc Weingarten, The Guardian
“A compelling review of the ingenious ways that burglars negotiate the built environment―and what we can learn from their infrastructural ingenuity.” ―Robbie Gonzalez, Wired
“Smart, original... delirious with ideas... it’s hard to argue with Manaugh’s contention that burglary is ‘a new science of the city, proceeding by way of shortcuts, splices, and wormholes.’” ―The Boston Globe
“A Burglar’s Guide to the City is a masterpiece of mad ideas, pouring out one after another. The book is one of the most enjoyable volumes of the year.” ―The Washington Free Beacon
“Manaugh turns the building world inside out in this fascinating view of the modern city as seen through the eyes of a potential burglar... Readers of this illuminating study will never look at the buildings and cities they live in the same way.” ―Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Geoff Manaugh is the founder of BLDGBLOG, one of the most popular architecture sites on the Web.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The book contains seven chapters. The first chapter lays the groundwork, particularly through discussion of the aforementioned extremes. On one hand, there is George Leonidas Leslie, an architect turned bank robber who would build accurate mockups in order to accurately rehearse robberies, and--on the other hand--there is the guy who used a ghillie suit disguise in a rock and mineral museum (which, not unsurprisingly, featured barren rock displays [down-playing vegetation] such that the guy stuck out like a guy in a ghillie suit in a rock display.)
Chapter 2 details what Manaugh learned about burglary and the fight against it through his interviews with law enforcement, and—in particular—the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) helicopter unit.
The next chapter focuses on how different types of buildings are violated by burglars, and apartment burglaries are prominent in the discussion. This isn’t just about how they breach the building, but how they discover when no one will be home.
Chapter 4 is entitled “tools of the trade” and it reflects upon the skill-set that Hollywood suggests is associated with burglars—i.e. lock-picking and safe-cracking--but which constitute a less common set of tactics than one might think. Burglars usually favor the messier / quicker approach of busting walls and locks.
Chapter 5 deals with a number of issues under the rubric of “inside jobs” but one of the most intriguing is its discussion of those who don’t break in at all, but rather who hide inside the target building awaiting closing time.
The penultimate chapter is about that ever-present concern of burglars, the getaway. And sometimes the secret is what Black Widow says in “Captain America: Civil War”: “The first rule of being on the run is walk, don’t run.” The final chapter is a wrap-up, including a conclusion to the George Leonidas Leslie story that was brought up in the first chapter.
There are notes and citations at the end of the book. There are no graphics. I think this book could have benefited from graphics. However, the author displayed such skill with language and story-telling that I didn’t seem to notice (or care) at the time of reading. I suspect Manaugh didn’t want to present too much detail for fear of being seen as an actual manual for crime, which this clearly is not.
I found this book fascinating, and think you would enjoy it if you have any interests in cities, security, civil engineering, architecture, or just have a healthy curiosity about how buildings and cities work.
A totally different thread is that it did succeed in helping me feel less safe.
To his credit, though, many of the ideas and stories were interesting: I simply couldn't talk myself into continuing to suffer his style of storytelling ... which, I suppose, some might actually enjoy. Hey: lucky them.
I get the idea the author wanted to communicate, that architectural design and burglary are mutually-influential on each other, but that's kind of a nebulous point to make, and not one that anybody would really argue against in the first place.
The book is at its best when it's indulging in true crime anecdotes, describing famous burglaries, the burglars who got away with it, and the people who dovetail with either. Unfortunately it drops the ball several times by not paying off some of these anecdotes and just generally over-defining terms.
As the author says, the truth is that most burglary is mundane and not carried out by master thieves. That's true, but it's also not terribly interesting. Even the parts in which he explores the relationship between the built world and the criminals who find other ways to use it seem flaccid. I would have like more like the first chapter with its false doors and secret warehouses.
The modern world has plenty to offer to the crime aficionado too, with all of the digital crime that happens. Digital crime often involves a large amount of breaking and entering, or at least clever distribution of thumb drives. That would have been interesting, had he touched on it.
The author references the classic book by Harry Houdini - The Right Way to do Wrong, which sits on my bedstand. It's a much better book about the strange world of crime and expectations.