Censuses can be marvels of democracy or instruments of exclusion—and at worst, tools of tyranny and genocide—but regardless, they have always profoundly shaped the societies we've built. Here data scientist Andrew Whitby traces the remarkable history of the census, from ancient China and the Roman Empire, through revolutionary America and Nazi-occupied Europe, to the steps of the Supreme Court. Today, as we struggle to resist the creep of mass surveillance, Whitby suggests that the traditional census may offer the seeds of an alternative.
"Whitby traces a fascinating story of why and how governments have counted their people…. A vivid and informative account of modern census-taking."—Wall Street Journal