In the Garden of Beasts

In the Garden of Beasts

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

Large Print - 2011
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Documents the efforts of the first American ambassador to Hitler's Germany, William E. Dodd, to acclimate to a residence in an increasingly violent city where he is forced to associate with the Nazis while his daughter pursues a relationship with Gestapo chief Rudolf Diels.
Publisher: New York : Random House Large Print, 2011
Edition: First large print edition
ISBN: 9780739378144
0739378147
Branch Call Number: 943.086 La
Characteristics: 704 pages (large print) ; 24 cm
large print

Opinion

From Library Staff

The story of America's first ambassador to Germany under the Nazi's and his daughter as they confront the rise of the Third Reich. The ambassador sees the danger--no one listens in the US--and his daughter is caught up in a increasingly dark social life with the Nazi elite.

Although it's nonfiction, this book read like the most suspenseful novel. It explores William E. Dodd's ambassadorship to Berlin in 1933, exploring the momentousness of that seminal time.


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TechLibrarian Aug 26, 2017

I listened to this audiobook a few years ago. At the time I only thought it was so-so--it's quite suspenseful, as the plot and tension build slowly. I could appreciate that it was all meticulously researched using primary sources, and this gave great insight into the characters. I've been thinking about it lots over the past few weeks, as current events seem eerily similar. Thus, I thought I'd write a review and add it to my list of recommended reads. I think it's important that everyone understand this history.

c
cmarie20
Jul 22, 2017

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

j
Janice21383
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?

s
shayshortt
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.

Full review: https://shayshortt.com/2017/02/09/in-the-garden-of-beasts/

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Nora1000
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.

g
GeneKathol
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.

Chapel_Hill_SusanM Mar 28, 2016

I hadn't read Erik Larson before (I know, I know), and I am happy to say this guy lives up to the hype. It's a compelling story with plot and intrigue and characters you care about, but it also avoids one of my pet peeves - made up conversations between historical figures. Plus, the subject matter is at once alarming and thought-provoking - it seems like a pretty straight line from the anti-Semitism of the US to the complacence about Hitler's rise to power to the Holocaust, but hindsight is 20/20, right? I also wish there were no implications for the current day, but that wish is part of the dangerous complacence, isn't it? The point is, this book provoked FEELINGS, which I was not expecting. Also, I would like a whole book on Martha Dodd, the ambassador's daughter. Dang, she got into some stuff.

p
pdxalexa
Jan 16, 2016

Great book that lived up to its hype in its day. Well read by the narrator. Captured the turn of the worm in pre-WWII Berlin. The fear in the air was palpable.

c
cknightkc
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.

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shayshortt
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.

ajmccreary 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.

j
jkherm
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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ajmccreary Jul 01, 2016

ajmccreary thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

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shayshortt
Feb 09, 2017

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

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