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In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
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In The Garden of Beasts

by Erik Larson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,5202081,503 (3.83)184
  1. 60
    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
    Alone in Berlin 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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Showing 1-5 of 200 (next | show all)
I got this book through the goodreads.com first reads giveaway. I was excited to get it because I heard such good things about Erik Larson's other works, and I am truly interested in finding out more about the Nazis, Germany, and Hilter.

Now I cannot say that this wasn't a good book for someone else, but I myself did not like it. In fact I didn't make it 50 pages in. If I don't like a book I try to make it to at least 50 pages in to see if it improves, but this book was very VERY dry. It isn't that I don't like nonfiction books either because I've read a few, but I don't even feel like Erik Larson tried to tell a story, it was like reading a textbook. It was just one thing after another with no interesting (in my opinion) tidbits at all. I recently started reading another nonfiction book "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot and I just love the book. I can't put it down.

So unfortunately this was the first book that I received from the First Reads giveaway that I didn't enjoy. I am either going to donate my copy to my local library or perhaps see if someone is looking to trade on the other part of this website. ( )
  PrescottKris | Jan 26, 2015 |
This book tells the story of William Dodd's first year as ambassador to Germany, when Hitler first took power. Dodd was a university professor looking for a quiet post where he could work on his book and enjoy a year with his family together. His daughter, Martha, was escaping from an impulsive marriage and looking for a bit of fun. Before Dodd took the post, he was warned about the exaggerated stories coming out of Germany and he was eager to work with the new Nazi government, feeling that they would temper their actions as they got used to governing. So things went somewhat differently than anticipated.

The single thing that struck me about this book was how unwilling people were to see what was happening, how quick they were to dismiss the stories and how invested everyone was in maintaining the status quo. What Jewish people claimed was happening was easily brushed aside by comfortable American tourists who didn't see anything unpleasant in their visits to tourist attractions. Martha Dodd was able to dismiss the occasional unpleasant sight because the nice SS officers were so polite and blond. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | Dec 27, 2014 |
I enjoyed this a lot. It is the story of the newly appointed US ambassador to Germany - and his family - in 1933-34. The main character is really the daughter, who is seen as a real playgirl. There are several Germans who become quite prominent in Hitler's regime.
  jimmoz | Dec 18, 2014 |
In 1933, William Dodd, a quiet and bookish professor becomes America's first ambassador to Hitler's Germany. Dodd, along with his wife and daughter, Martha, travel to Germany to encounter two sides to Germany. One side is glamourous -- full of parties and fun, while the other side is overshadowed with Jewish persecution. In the immediate years that follow, Dodd and his family bear witness to a darkening Germany -- one that America ignores, even believing that the country will never enter into the future war of Dodd's predictions.

Larson's latest book is daunting -- both in the introduction of many, many characters and in the review of a history that is often overlooked in the discussion of World War II. Still, it's a book worth reading and even though I didn't enjoy In the Garden of Beasts as much as Larson's previous works, it's still a book that belongs on the bookshelf! ( )
  karenweyant | Dec 15, 2014 |
Be prepared to stay up reading into the wee hours once you get your hands on this book. It held my interest better than any novel, and it filled in all the gaps in my understanding of how Hitler was able to gain so much power so quickly, with so little opposition. Erik Larson used the detailed diaries of William E. Dodd and his daughter Martha to reconstruct "a year in the life" for Americans in Berlin from 1933 to 1934.

William Dodd had no idea what he was saying yes to when President Roosevelt offered him the position of ambassador to Germany in 1933. Dodd had fond memories of the Germany of 40 years before, when he'd attended college in Leipzig. Upon arrival in Berlin, he and his family discovered a Germany already in the grip of terror, a mere six months after Hitler had been appointed chancellor. Storm Troopers were attacking people in the streets. Communists and liberals were already being sent to concentration camps without due process.

As ambassador, Dodd found he was required to attend diplomatic functions and rub shoulders with the monsters of the new regime. As the horrors worsened, he found this increasingly repugnant, and tried doggedly to convince those in Washington that intervention was necessary. His entreaties fell mostly on deaf ears. Dodd's bosses were more concerned about getting Germany to pay off their huge debt to America, while maintaining an isolationist position with regard to foreign conflicts.

While Dodd struggled with his diplomatic duties, his young daughter Martha was treating her time in Berlin as a lark. She dated and consorted with highly placed Nazis, including some of the most abominable of Hitler's minions. At first, she enthusiastically endorsed the Nazi agenda and its effect on the "New Germany." By the winter of 1933-34, however, she too was living in terror. This didn't seem to put much of a damper on her dating life, though, and she gained a reputation as quite a round-heeled girl.

In late June of 1934 came "The Night of the Long Knives," in which Hitler orchestrated the rapid execution of hundreds of Storm Troopers and other "enemies," some seemingly at random. That August, President Hindenburg died. Hitler quickly took control and achieved absolute power. William Dodd remained in his position as ambassador for three more years, during which American leaders continued to refuse his requests for intervention in Nazi Germany.

This book has already earned a permanent place in my home library. I can't recommend it highly enough. Great care has been taken to provide all the little things that prevent confusion and make a book easier to read and understand. I would give it six stars if I could. ( )
1 vote TheJeanette | Dec 2, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 200 (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 editionsconfirmed
Cookman, WhtineyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nudelman, ElinaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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)
Dedication
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.
Quotations
"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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Book description
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.
Haiku summary
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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