Berlin with Barney White-Spunner

Barney White-Spunner (Photo by Millie Pilkington)

Berlin has always been a uniquely nonconformist corner of a remarkably orderly country.

It was the capital of Prussia, but its rulers preferred to live on its forested outskirts rather than in their palaces on the Spree.

It came to symbolize Nazi Germany, but Hitler despised its rebellious, irreverent, freethinking residents.

And for more than 40 years, it was the symbol of freedom in the face of tyranny.

Berlin has been a crucible of culture, an industrial powerhouse, a nest of spies, and now, it’s Europe’s capital of cool.

How did this flat, unpromising patch of sand become the most interesting city on the continent?

That’s what we’ll explore in today’s podcast.

I’m joined by Lieutenant General Sir Barney White-Spunner, who has written a wonderful book on the city. 

Barney spent many years in Germany while serving with the British Army. He commanded the Household Cavalry and later the British airborne forces, led British and Multinational forces in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan, and ended his highly distinguished career as Commander of the British Field Army. 

He’s the author of Berlin: The Story of a City, Of Living Valour: The Story of the Soldiers at Waterloo, and Partition: The Story of Indian Independence in 1947 and the Creation of Pakistan.

We spoke about a royal dynasty, waves of immigration and destruction, and the distinctly irreverent Berlin character that we both know and love.

These are the books we mentioned in the podcast:

We also mentioned:

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About the author

Ryan Murdock

Author of A Sunny Place for Shady People and Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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