Skip to Main Content

'An impressively clear and engaging biography of a fascinating city at the very centre of European history' Antony Beevor
'My only complaint is that it was so fascinating I wish it had been longer. What a story!' Philip Mansel

Telling the story of its people and its rulers, from its medieval origins up to the present day, Berlin is a fascinating and informative history of an extraordinary city from the author of the international bestseller Partition.

Berlin is Europe’s most fascinating and exciting city. It is and always has been a city on the edge – geographically, culturally, politically and morally. The great movements that have shaken Europe, from the Reformation to Marxism have their origins in Berlin’s streets. The long-time capital of Prussia and of the Hohenzollern dynasty it has never, paradoxically, been a Prussian city. Instead it has always been a city of immigrants, a city that accepts everyone and turns them into Berliners. A typical Berliner, it is said, is someone who has just arrived at the railway station.
 
With its unique dialect, exceptional museums, experimental cultural scene, its liberated social life and its open and honest approach to its history, with monuments to the Holocaust as prominent as its rebuilt royal palace, it is as challenging a city as it is absorbing. And it has always been like that, since its medieval foundation as twin fishing villages. Too often Berlin is seen through the prism of Nazism and its role on the front line in the Cold War. Important, frightening and interesting as those periods are, its history starts much further ago than that.

As approachable for the casual visitor to Berlin as it is informative for those who enjoy reading history, Berlin: The Story of a City is as fascinating as its subject.

 
 

Photograph C: John Millar / Country Life magazine

Educated at Eton College and the University of St Andrews, Barney White-Spunner was appointed Commanding Officer of the Household Cavalry in 1996 and became Chief of Joint Force Operations for the British contingent in the Middle East in 2003. He was made Commander of the British Field Army in 2009. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2002. This is his first book to be published in the United States.

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (December 2, 2020)
  • Length: 528 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781471181542

'Aware that Berliners complain the world knows their city only for its Nazi and Cold War epochs, White-Spunner unfolds a municipal history that illuminates the full complexity of this metropolis’s thousand-year evolution... Thoroughly engrossing!'

– Bryce Christensen, Booklist

'An impressively clear and engaging biography of a fascinating city at the very centre of European history.'

– Antony Beevor

'My only complaint is that it was so fascinating I just wish it had been longer. What a story!'

– Philip Mansel

'Superb. The city that is always ‘im Werden’ has found its narrator... [Barney White-Spunner] has done something astonishing, constructing a narrative that spans more than a thousand years, that can only be told in the context of the higher political history of Germany, and indeed Europe, yet which at every turn shows his depth of personal affection for a city he knows so well and clearly loves. That mix of the private and the public is just one of the things that makes the book so absorbing.'

– Neil MacGregor

More books from this author: Barney White-Spunner