Classic Bryson, if you enjoy his other books you’ll like this one too. Chapter 8 is the grumpy old man version of How Buildings Learn.

Bryson’s description of London is full of the successes (the city’s green belt) and failures (e.g the failure to bury utility cables) of long-term thinking.

Theis quote (p. 132) may explain why the “great outdoors” movement gained so many preponderants in 19th century:

[The cause of Jane Austen’s death] may have been Addison’s disease or Hodgkin’s lymphoma or a form of typhus or possibly arsenic poisoning, which was surprisingly common in those days as arsenic was routinely used in making wallpapers and for coloring fabrics. It has been suggested that the general air of ennui and frailty that seemed so characteristic of the age may simply have been generations of women spending too much time indoors taking in gently toxic vapors.

Britain is also the most recent and best example for Americans of how to face decline with dignity (or better yet, to decide not to decline).