Jens Bisky


The rise, fall and rebirth of Berlin: A fascinating history of one of the world’s major cities

The social climber of European capitals, a laboratory of modernity, a symbol of the fractures that blighted the 20th century: Berlin is the quintessence of both German and European history. Jens Bisky keeps both contexts in sharp focus throughout his absorbing history of Germany’s largest city. It begins with the founding of old Berlin and Cölln on the banks of the River Spree, later uniting to form a new versatile and open city. 

It opened its gates to Huguenots fleeing persecution and under Prussian rule welcomed leading Enlightenment thinkers. Berlin later became a metropolis of the proletariat and industrialists, of bankers and Nobel Prize winners, becoming the place to be during the Roaring Twenties. Bisky’s expertly woven story also details its destruction during the Second World War and the tension that engulfed the city after 1945 when two superpowers faced off across its streets.

An authority on Prussian history, Jens Bisky lays before us the history of Germany’s capital with a level of expertise and detail unseen in decades. This is a fascinating story of the rise, fall and rebirth of a city yet also a panorama of German and European history reflected in the history of a unique metropolis


Jens Bisky

Jens Bisky

Born in Leipzig in 1966, Jens Bisky studied cultural sciences and German language and literature in Berlin. He wrote for the Berliner Zeitung and has been a staff writer for Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Feuilleton arts and culture section since 2001. He has also authored several well-received books, including Born on August 13th (2004), Kleist: A Biography (2007) and Our King: Frederick the Great and His Era (2011). In 2017 he was awarded the Johann Heinrich Merck Prize by the German Academy for Language and Poetry for his literary criticism and essays.