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In the Garden of Beasts

Love, Terror, and An American Family in Hitler's Berlin
Larson, Erik (eBook - 2011 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
In the Garden of Beasts

Item Details

The bestselling author of "Devil in the White City" turns his hand to a remarkable story set during Hitler's rise to power. The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America's first ambassador to Hitler's Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.
Authors: Larson, Erik
Title: In the garden of beasts
love, terror, and an American family in Hitler's Berlin
[electronic resource]
Publisher: New York :, Crown,, c2011.
Edition: 1st ed.
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xiv, 448 p.) :,ill., map.
Contents: Das Vorspiel
The man behind the curtain
Into the wood
House hunting in the Third Reich
Lucifer in the garden
How the skeleton arches
Berlin at dusk
When everything changed
The queer bird in exile
"Table talk."
Summary: The bestselling author of "Devil in the White City" turns his hand to a remarkable story set during Hitler's rise to power. The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America's first ambassador to Hitler's Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.
Local Note: 23
ISBN: 9780307887955
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Report This Oct 25, 2013
  • hania4987 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This is the story of the consolidation of power on the national level, mostly seen through Professor Dodd who became the American ambassador in Berlin in 1933. The focus is the first year of his posting. At first he is a almost a comically naive character, full of his own prejudices and idiosyncrasies, who thinks he can persuade and reason with Hitler to change his agenda. As he becomes more aware of events that he cannot continue to justify, he starts to take some small actions, speaks out and stops to attend staged events. In the end he becomes that unlikely American hero who raises the warning of isolationism and its consequences. The Professor is never part of the clubby cronyism of the diplomatic corps, and in the end, he is undermined and ultimately removed. We have a picture of a collective European ambivalence towards German actions in that time period, but the US had similar attitudes. Larson writes: "the lengths U.S. officials felt compelled to go to avoid direct criticism of Hitler and his party. The degree of restraint would have been comical if the stakes had not been so high and raised a question: why were the State Department and President Roosevelt so hesitant to express in frank terms how they really felt about Hitler at a time when such expressions clearly could have had a powerful effect on his prestige in the world?" On a side note, his daughter Martha is the other major character in this narrative. Her actions become a symbol of the general American flirtation with the philosophies prevalent in Europe which are a direct contradiction to American ideals. It's also interesting to see the parallels to more contemporary events. (A great book which explains how this all happened is "The Nazi Seizure of Power" by William Sheridan Allen)

Report This Sep 24, 2013
  • lorna2511 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A vivid account of the upper-eschelons of Berlin society during the years of Hitler's rise to power and entry to war. Larson's writing is engaging and informative, bringing to life Ambassador Dodd and his grown daughter, Martha. Fact-based fiction which entertainingly fills out the reader's knowledge and understanding of this period of history.

Report This Aug 13, 2013
  • jeanie123 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Well, I didn't love this book nor did I hate it. There were definitely some tedious moments and some very loooong sentences. There were some very interesting facets of history that I had not previously accessed, but I found the writing style awkward.

Report This Jun 09, 2013
  • WVMLBookClubTitles rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

In 1933, William E. Dodd is selected US ambassador to Nazi Germany. Dodd takes his family with him. At first, his daughter Martha is entranced by the parties, pomp, and young men of the Third Reich. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. With alarm, Dodd watches as Jews are attacked and the press is censored. As the year unfolds, the Dodds experience days of excitement, romance—and ultimately horror as Hitler reveals his true character. An addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize Hitler as a threat until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.

Report This Jan 27, 2013
  • msevinrud rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

Have to agree with Michelle - just could not wade through all the non-relevant drivel. Made it more than 1/2 way but had a stack of books that seemed way more interesting so just quit reading. Was disappointed as author had been recommended to me.

Report This Jan 13, 2013
  • michelledrmt rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

I listened to this book on audio and STILL could not get through it. The storyline had good potential, but Larson wrote in WAY too much detail, repeatedly going off on irrelevant tangents. It read like a history text book, very dry, too many facts and not enough story. I was unimpressed by the lack of creativity. Did learn some interesting things about the Nazis and Germany at this time, and would have liked to learn more, but I just couldn't bear it any longer. Very disappointed.

Report This Dec 17, 2012
  • susarrey rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Excellent book, exceedingly well-researched and well-written as we've come to expect of Larson. I consider myself to be a bit of a history buff and had already heard of Martha Dodd, but the details of Ambassador Dodd and his family's experiences in Germany were fascinating.

Report This Dec 17, 2012
  • llwboston rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

This was a disappointing read. I was expecting a compelling narrative along the lines of Larson's Devil in the White City. While he does gives us a vivid portrait of daily life in Berlin in the first years of the Nazi regime, I wish he had focused on more interesting people, especially Americans in Berlin who were challenging the accepted view of the regime. I did learn some interesting history,such as the "trial" against the Nazis in Central Park, and the plot to try to overthrow Hitler. But there are some loose ends, such as what happened to the family in the ambassador's residence after the ambassador left? It's as if Larson focused on the least interesting person at the center of these events.

Report This Nov 24, 2012
  • sdsmith12 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Erik Larson's books make history come to life through fascinating stories. This story is no different. Larson gives the reader a view through the eyes of the Dodds inside Hitler's Berlin. I felt that this book was a lot more detailed than The Devil in the White City. Mr. Dodd and his daughter Martha kept journals about their daily lives in Berlin. A lot of the information in this book is pulled from this. I enjoyed every bit of it and highly recommend.

Report This Oct 05, 2012
  • lisastitch rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

An interesting perspective on Hitler's rise to power, which held my interest, even on a second reading. I am not fond of Larson's style, but would recommend the book.

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