Bread and circuses—free food and mass entertainment—was the name contemporary social observers gave to the ancient Roman practice of keeping the common people happy and rebellion-free. Jonathan Glancey, in this personal and passionate essay about the city he loves, suggests that the same unformulated policy is the means by which modern London’s citizens are kept as apolitical and passively pleasure-loving as possible. But shops, restaurants and a few gorgeous buildings are, he maintains, a poor substitute for a creaking infrastructure, and London’s cachet as a boisterously creative but well-run city will plummet if private vice is allowed to triumph over public virtue.
“His small book is peculiarly significant because it is totally un-selfconscious, a final despairing shout from a humanist for whom architecture is too often vacuous bunkum.”—Jay Merrick, Independent
“Jonathan Glancey is a wonderful communicator.”—Norman Foster