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A Burglar's Guide to the City

Narrated by: Scott Aiello
Length: 7 hrs and 55 mins
Categories: Nonfiction, True Crime
4 out of 5 stars (170 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Encompassing nearly 2,000 years of heists and tunnel jobs, break-ins and escapes, A Burglar's Guide to the City offers an unexpected blueprint to the criminal possibilities in the world all around us. You'll never see the city the same way again.

At the core of A Burglar's Guide to the City is an unexpected and thrilling insight: how any building transforms when seen through the eyes of someone hoping to break into it. Studying architecture the way a burglar would, Geoff Manaugh takes listeners through walls, down elevator shafts, into panic rooms, up to the buried vaults of banks, and out across the rooftops of an unsuspecting city.

With the help of FBI special agents, reformed bank robbers, private security consultants, the LAPD Air Support Division, and architects past and present, the book dissects the built environment from both sides of the law. Whether picking padlocks or climbing the walls of high-rise apartments, finding gaps in a museum's surveillance routine or discussing home invasions in ancient Rome, A Burglar's Guide to the City has the tools, the tales, and the X-ray vision you need to see architecture as nothing more than an obstacle that can be outwitted and undercut.

Full of real-life heists both spectacular and absurd, A Burglar's Guide to the City ensures that listeners will never enter a bank again without imagining how to loot the vault or walk down the street without planning the perfect getaway.

©2016 Geoff Manaugh (P)2016 Random House Audio

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  • Phillip
  • Laramie, WY, United States
  • 04-18-16

A Complete Mess

Would you try another book from Geoff Manaugh and/or Scott Aiello?

I would not try another book by the author. The book is poor on several levels. The structure of the book is a mess, and the topics discussed in it seem to be haphazardly put together in a scattershot method. The author also goes off on several long digressions that at times only slightly relate to the actual topic of the book. Two examples of this would be the overly long section at the beginning with the LAPD helicopter patrol, and later with the long trip down the rabbit hole of lock-picking; the latter of these two seems like it would directly have to do with burglary, except the author and those he interviewed explicitly restate again and again that lock-pickers are not burglars. That leads me to my next point, which is the insufferable amount of redundancy in this book. The author repeats the same points over and over again. Finally, the author includes numerous examples of successful burglaries and failures, but nearly every time only provides half of the story, leaving out critical, basic story-telling information, constantly leaving me thinking, "okay, where is the rest of story." The author states in the book that it took two and half years to research this book, but most of it feels like it was researched through Wikipedia and Google News searches. This book might work with a serious reedit, but in its current state, it interminable. I have the distinct feeling that this book started out as something different, and then someone slapped a catchy title on it, promising something it really does not deliver.

Has A Burglar's Guide to the City turned you off from other books in this genre?

Not necessarily, but I'll be more cautious next time in choosing something in this genre.

Have you listened to any of Scott Aiello’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Scott Aiello's performance was fine. His character voices seemed pretty generic, but it is not like he was given much to work with here.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The panic room and lock-picking sections were interesting, but they do not necessarily work overall very well in this book.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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the opening story was good but

the remainder of the book was a compilation of verbose descriptions of architecture and seemingly trivial comparisons of whether or not specific types of architecture contributed to or protected against burglary

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A blunt instrument on a subject begging for a scalpel

I was excited for this book based on the concept alone. The result is good, but Manaugh moves through the subject matter like a freight train. I'd hoped for more detail, a more patient discussion of the heists, so many of which he only teases. A fun discussion to tickle the imagination with just enough detail to make you look for more resources in the field.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A very entertaining look at architecture

I really enjoyed this book, with its stories of master burglars and their cat-and - mouse game with police. So interesting. And very well told.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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loved it. so interesting

so informative and intriguing about how architecture can be used for and against us

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Fascinating

Geoff Manaugh details burglary laws, how building codes can be used for a burglar, how to protect yourself against burglary, and famous cases. It's pretty cool.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Couldn’t think of a way to make this fascinating topic more boring

First, the story spends almost no time talking about interesting stories of burglary in the details they’re involved. Instead the book hinges on the authors week philosophy and theories about burglary in architecture which if not already obvious and if not already stated in other places are beaten to absolute death throughout the book. This book could’ve been very simply written by just taking a whole bunch of interesting stories about burglary and talking about the details. Instead the author decides to take the stories gloss over all of interesting details and instead focus on theories and philosophies of burglary. The issue with this is that after he stated it the first time near the beginning of the book he goes on to restate it an infinite number of different ways but always saying the same thing over and over again throughout this entire book. Another issue I have with this book is that the author fills the pages with adjectives and adverbs that are completely unwarranted and do nothing more that extent extend the length of thisNever ending seemingly never ending book. I spent the time to go through the entire book, hoping that there would be something of value by the end. Unfortunately the same problems repeat themselves over and over again. Don’t waste your time.

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    5 out of 5 stars

The most fascinating book I've ever read.

I've gone through this book three times. Its still as riveting and intriguing as the first time I've read it. Even if your not into crime statistics, criminology or architeture this book will beyond a doubt, open your eyes to a world filled with invisible possibilities.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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Over written.

The ideas are fine, but I found the writing long and irritating. Make your point and move on.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Reads like a movie pitch...

Is there anything you would change about this book?

In a reasonable world the author would have written this material as a film pitch, directly and for that purpose. But, in the world of pre-published galleys frequently being optioned for film rights, the author is shrewd in his approach. The perceived prestige of producing material based on a book, unfairly or not, makes a film deal more likely because it's seen as a safer bet than a script. And for an executive in the tenuous position of approving a project, they need all the safety they can get! I don't blame 'em.

Would you recommend A Burglar's Guide to the City to your friends? Why or why not?

Yes, great story!

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

Mazel Tov!