The first two London Olympics offer food for thought in the run-up to London 2012, with its multi-billion pound budget during a global economic recession, new sporting arenas, Olympic villages, and high-speed rail links. When Vesuvius erupted in 1906, Italy had to pull out of hosting the Games. London stepped in and delivered new stadia without any government assistance in just two years. In 1948, still recovering from the ravages of war, London hosted the Olympics again. The entire budget for the 1948 Games was 760,000, and they turned a profit of 29,000. This history of the London Olympics, which concludes with a look ahead to 2012, is a timely and fascinating chronicle of the Games of another age.