Decoding Cities

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Jessa Crispin makes an effort to understand her city of Berlin:

Sometimes it’s the tiniest moments that reveal the most about a city. I read Miranda Carter’s George, Nicholas and Wilhelm to try to understand better the lead up to World War I. But Carter spends so much time in palaces and at state dinners, in royal families’ parlors that I came away just as confused as before. But in a small aside, she mentions that Kaiser Wilhelm used to ask his generals to dress up in tutus and dance for his amusement. And they did. And suddenly I felt I understood a lot more about the German military and its leader, much more than from the book’s other 800 pages.

As a beautifully crafted counterpoint, the "Cities" episode of RadioLab offers a glimpse into how much we can infer from a city's statistics.

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