In the Garden of Beasts

In the Garden of Beasts

Love, Terror, and An American Family in Hitler's Berlin

Book - 2011
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Erik Larson, New York Times bestselling author of Devil in the White City, delivers 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 Nazi Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.

A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the "New Germany," she has one affair after another, including with the suprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels.

But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance--and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler's true character and ruthless ambition.

Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre G#65533;ring and the expectedly charming--yet wholly sinister--Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.
Publisher: New York : Crown, c2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307408853
Branch Call Number: 943.086 L329i
Characteristics: xiv, 448 p. : ill., map ; 25 cm


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Jul 22, 2017

Fascinating and terrifying book! Felt like the author was reading the book to me -

Jul 04, 2017

Innocents Abroad: Between the Wars. This story of ambassadorial intrigue as the Nazis take power in republican Germany -- in other words, fiddling while Rome burns -- is not as interesting as it should be. The elements are all there, but the author does not have the skills, or call it the killer instinct, to bring the generally well-meaning but confused and complacent U.S. ambassador and his daughter to life. I wonder how the film will turn out; they're going to have to do back flips to portray them as heroic, or even very sympathetic. Maybe they won't, and instead will portray them as they were. Wouldn't that be interesting?

Feb 09, 2017

In the Garden of Beasts is richly described, from the scenery to the characters, in a manner that gives a horrifying immediacy to a crucial turning point in history. From our vantage point in the future, we are forced to see through the eyes of people living in the time, who had no idea of the horrors to come. It is an uncomfortable but revealing perspective.

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Jan 04, 2017

This book was recommend to me by others also wanting to discover how an educated and tolerant society like Germany in the mid 30's was so wholly consumed by the Nazi machine. It goes along with "Hitler's Willing Executioners" as a must read to gather some perspective on how this comes about, and if it could, again.

Dec 01, 2016

One of the scariest books but unmatched for historical fiction...the real history of pre-war Germany and the parallels in the USA of the very recent times (21st century), make one shudder. This should be required reading for all who have attended public school in the last 30 years.

AL_CHRISTINES Oct 16, 2016

This book drops you into the middle of Berlin during the rise of the Nazi party. An intriguing story of outsiders living in the changing and ultimately, terrifying time before the outbreak of a world war. At times the many "characters" were difficult to remember, and sometimes I felt Larson got a little too caught up in details, but this was a great addition to those interested in WWII.

Dec 28, 2015

Erik Larson’s IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS does not quite approach the brilliance of his other works I have read (THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY and DEAD WAKE), yet it is worthy of study given its relevance to today’s world. Evil still exists and it is important to be reminded of and learn from our past failures in order to avoid history repeating itself. The book mainly concerns William E. Dodd, U.S. Ambassador to 1930’s Germany, a rather outwardly bland man who refuses to compromise his principles, and his impetuous daughter, Martha, who is as exuberant as her father is restrained. Together they witness the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party. Larson expertly captures the atmosphere of pre-WWII Berlin, slowly revealing the sinister forces and horrors underlying the seeming serenity of everyday life in the city and country.

Dec 28, 2015

An excellent recounting of the beginnings of Germany's lust to rule the world. If one lived at that time the future would certainly not be known. However we see the evolving horror of Hitler's vision - murder, torture and betrayal. Not only Jews but other Germans were persecuted for being communists, physically handicapped and considered to be problematic for the Ayrian 'pure race' to come.

Itsinthemusic Aug 29, 2015

Gives a good sense of the times and a more intimate sense of the Dodds than other published works. For more detailed information about the times through the eyes of journalists, attaches, etc., read “Hitlerland” by Andrew Nagorski.

Jul 13, 2015

This book tells the story of the American Ambassador to Germany and his family living in Berlin in the time leading up to WWII. Although it is non-fiction and you know what will happen, the story reads like a novel, very suspenseful, compelling and dramatic. I loved it.

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Feb 09, 2017

In the diplomatic service, Berlin would normally be considered a plum ambassadorial appointment, a great European capital exceeded only by London or Paris. But in the spring of 1933, the recently elected Franklin Roosevelt was having trouble filling the position. The political situation in Germany was turbulent, and Adolf Hitler had just been appointed Chancellor. Meanwhile Roosevelt had more consuming problems closer to home, dealing with the Great Depression. Just before congress closed session in June 1933, Roosevelt appointed William E. Dodd, a historian from the University of Chicago, to the post. At least four previous candidates had declined the position. Dodd, his wife Mattie, and adult children Bill and Martha, decamped for Berlin, becoming first-hand witnesses to the rise of National Socialism during their four year tenure in the German capital.

Jul 01, 2016

Chronicles the tenure of a history professor turned US ambassador to Germany during the early 1930s; the dalliances of his daughter with Jewish literary figures, Nazi power brokers, and Soviet spies; and the reluctance of all -- but especially of those back in Washington -- to fully register the implications of Hitler's rise.

Jun 08, 2013

This book takes place in Germany prior to WW II. Get a glimpse of what was happening in Germany as Hitler rose to power.

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Jul 01, 2016

ajmccreary thinks this title is suitable for All Ages


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Feb 09, 2017

There existed at this time a widespread perception that Hitler’s government could not possibly endure.


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