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In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and…

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's…

by Erik Larson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,0882811,271 (3.83)252
Recently added byLinda_22003, private library, historysmyth, hiden33, jslantz1948, MrPivot, ClearShax
  1. 70
    The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer (kraaivrouw)
  2. 30
    Through embassy eyes by Martha Dodd (marieke54)
  3. 20
    I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years 1933-1941 by Victor Klemperer (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: The published version of Klemperer’s secret wartime diary are a vivid and personal account of day-to-day life in Nazi Germany. Writing with sophistication and insight, he records the stories of ordinary Germans and their hopes and fears during the dark days of the war. This provides interesting points of comparison with Dodd's experiences.… (more)
  4. 20
    Resisting Hitler. Mildred Harnack and the Red Orchestra by Shareen Blair Brysac (marieke54)
  5. 10
    Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: If you found In the Garden of Beasts moving and want to read fiction about the Third Reich, try Every Man Dies Alone, a haunting novel based on actual events surrounding a couple that attempted to undermine the Nazi regime.
  6. 11
    Red Orchestra: The Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler by Anne Nelson (kraaivrouw)
  7. 02
    The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America--The Stalin Era by Allen Weinstein (spacecommuter)
    spacecommuter: Erik Larsen's In the Garden of Beasts draws on The Haunted Wood and the notebooks of Alexader Vassiliev as sources. The Haunted Wood mentions Martha Dodd, her romance with Boris Winogradov and her father extensively, and includes additional evidence of Martha's espionage that Larsen mostly omitted from his book.… (more)

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» See also 252 mentions

English (270)  French (3)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (280)
Showing 1-5 of 270 (next | show all)
How could the world not see what Hitler was doing? Larson gives us a view through the eyes of our ambassador to Germany from 1933-1937 and his family. Even though we think we know what was happening in Germany at the time, the surprise for me came in the rhetoric from our own State Department and the US population at large. Who knew that so many despised the Jews here? Mob mentality at its worst. ( )
  sraelling | Sep 4, 2018 |
3.5 stars

This book follows the American Dodd family in Berlin in the 1930s, with the focus being 1933 and 1934. William Dodd, a history professor, was the US ambassador to Germany at the time, and his entire family, including his adult children in their 20s, moved to Berlin at this time, so they all experienced life in the German city during the rise of Hitler. The book primarily follows William and his 20-something year old (very promiscuous) daughter, Martha.

The setting is certainly an interesting time and place, but I didn’t like it as much as the other books I’ve read by Larson. I found the descriptions of what was going on in Germany interesting, but there was a lot of politics that I didn’t find as engaging. Overall, though, I still thought the book was good, just not as good as his others, at least for me. ( )
  LibraryCin | Aug 5, 2018 |
With “In The Garden Of Beast,” Erik Larson once more immerses his readers in the lives and times of his focal characters, Ambassador William Dodd and family, as they make their way from their peaceful, academic life in Chicago to the emerging caldron of pre-Nazi Berlin. Living within walking distance of the Reichstag, Ambassador Dodd is witness to Hitler’s manic drive to power and among the first to recognize his ultimate goal. He is also the first among many to be ignored as “the new Germany” frantically rearms and prepares to dominate Europe.
Like David McCullough, Larson writes living history in which the reader is absorbed into the facts and the feel of the events unfolding on the pages. Rife with details and personal accounts, “In The Garden Of Beasts” has the literary flow and drive of a well-crafted political thriller. A wonderful read in which the reader, while generally knowing how things evolved, keeps hoping the ending will somehow change; that the “night of the long knives,” Dachau, or Auschwitz won’t happen. But they do happen, and this time, the reader is witness as the atrocities, large and small, take root.
Four and a half stars from this old fart. And, as with his other offerings, a few more pictures of the described events would have completed the immersion and earned Mr. Larson that illusive extra half point. I’m sure he’s wringing his hands even as we speak, wondering why he didn’t. Maybe next time. ( )
1 vote Renzomalo | Jun 19, 2018 |
As always, [a: Erik Larson|5869|Erik Larson|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1304371037p2/5869.jpg] delivers in spades. In this case, Larson delivers an unflinching view of the American Ambassador to Berlin during the rise of the Hitler regime. He makes a point in the introduction to remind readers of the fact that, at the time, little was known of the depraved depths to which the Nazis would eventually sink. It was difficult to believe that such horrors would exist within the world, and indeed, many were far too slow to truly grasp all that was happening. In retrospect it's easy to assign blame, but would you truly believe, before such horrors had been wrought, that people were capable of it? Let alone turning the persecution of whole peoples into nearly a national past time?

In spite of the horrors that would eventually be found within, Larson weaves an entertaining tale. So much of Larson's work is drawn from primary sources, and this book is no exception to that rule. Seeing him speak last year, he talked about how this was one of his favorite book's to write, largely due to the very flamboyant character of the Ambassador's daughter - Martha. Martha was indeed a character, carrying on affairs with KGB spies, writers, and even a high ranking member of the SS. At one point she was even presented to Hitler as a possibility, although she ultimately found him a bit disappointing in person. The truth, it seems, is often stranger than fiction. The evolution of Martha's views of Nazism, as well as Dodd's change of perspective overtime, was a surprisingly optimistic thing to read. In spite of the horrors that were done, there were people attempting to wake others to the very real threat.

I adored this book, and would be happy to see it eventually on High School reading lists. While [b: Night|1617|Night (The Night Trilogy #1)|Elie Wiesel|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1473495285s/1617.jpg|265616] and [b: Maus|15195|The Complete Maus (Maus, #1-2)|Art Spiegelman|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1327354180s/15195.jpg|1658562] are both extremely valuable looks at WWII, it would be great to see a book like this - about that rise, how impossible it was to believe - as a segue to them. Another view of just how strange the world is, but how every little thing counts when it comes to standing up to such foes and doing the right thing. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
I generally like historical books, either fiction or not, but this one just lacked something for me. I think part of it was that there was way too much about Dodd's daughter, and all her "exploits" with men. I was wanting a lot more of what was going on in Germany, and a lot less of who she was dating and all her reckless escapes. I started this book several times over the last two years and just finally decided I would commit to finishing it this time. I was not as "wowed" as I had hoped to be. ( )
  Lisa5127 | Jun 2, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 270 (next | show all)
William E. Dodd was an academic historian, living a quiet life in Chicago, when Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him United States ambassador to Germany. It was 1933, Hitler had recently been appointed chancellor, the world was about to change.

Had Dodd gone to Berlin by himself, his reports of events, his diary entries, his quarrels with the State Department, his conversations with Roosevelt would be source material for specialists. But the general reader is in luck on two counts: First, Dodd took his family to Berlin, including his young, beautiful and sexually adventurous daughter, Martha; second, the book that recounts this story, “In the Garden of Beasts,” is by Erik Larson, the author of “The Devil in the White City.” Larson has meticulously researched the Dodds’ intimate witness to Hitler’s ascendancy and created an edifying narrative of this historical byway that has all the pleasures of a political thriller: innocents abroad, the gathering storm. . . .
added by PLReader | editNY Times, DOROTHY GALLAGHER (Jun 10, 2011)

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Erik Larsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cookman, WhtineyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nudelman, ElinaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself in a dark wood where the straight way was lost. - Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy: Canto I (Carlyle-Wickstead Translation, 1932)
To the girls, and the
next twenty-five

(and in memory of Molly, a good dog)
First words
Once, at the dawn of a very dark time, an American father and daughter found themselves suddenly transported from their snug home in Chicago to the heart of Hitler's Berlin.
"Hardly anyone thought that the threats against the Jews were meant seriously," wrote Carl Zuckmayer, a Jewish writer.
Even the language used by Hitler and party officials was weirdly inverted. The term "fanatical" became a positive trait. Suddenly it connoted what philologist Victor Klemperer, a Jewish resident of Berlin, described as a "happy mix of courage and fervent devotion."
"There has been nothing in social history more implacable, more heartless and more devastating than the present policy in Germany against the Jews..."
An odd kind of fanciful thinking seemed to have bedazzled Germany, to the highest levels of government. Earlier in the year, for example, Goring had claimed with utter sobriety that three hundred German Americans had been murdered in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia at the start of the past world war. Messersmith, in a dispatch, observed that even smart, well-traveled Germans will "sit and calmly tell you the most extraordinary fairy tales."
After experiencing life in Nazi Germany, Thomas Wolfe wrote, "Here was an entire nation ... infested with the contagion of an ever-present fear. It was a kind of creeping paralysis which twisted and blighted all human relations."
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William E. Dodd becomes the American ambassador to Germany, where he witnesses first-hand the atrocities of Hitler's regime and watches his daughter fall in love with a Nazi officer.
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They come overmatched Think easy job, not so Leave disheartened (foof2you)

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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.… (more)

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