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In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

In The Garden of Beasts

by Erik Larson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,4372031,568 (3.83)173
  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. 10
    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. 10
    Resisting Hitler: Mildred Harnack and the Red Orchestra by Shareen Blair Brysac (marieke54)
  5. 11
    Red Orchestra: The Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler by Anne Nelson (kraaivrouw)
  6. 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 173 mentions

English (195)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (203)
Showing 1-5 of 195 (next | show all)
I was kind of hoping for more gorey details about what happened, and found a lot of political hullabaloo, and talk of who Martha slept with.
Still, it was an interesting book. ( )
  ariel.kirst | Nov 14, 2014 |
I like Erik Larson's books because he does such unusual topics. Who would have looked behind the Chicago World's Fair, or investigated the horrible loss of life in (my favorite) Isaac's Storm? But this book is really a hidden gem of information. Professor William Dodd is tapped to be ambassador to Germany in 1933 by FDR. What an unlikely choice. Not wealthy, not particularly diplomatic and not very appeasing,
he finds himself in the thick of Hitler's rise to power and the beginning of World War II. Although the title says "American family" in fact his wife is seldom mentioned and is son is almost nonexistent although both are living with Dodd and his daughter. It is their story.
Ripe with intrigue and flush with names of SS and SA and every other alphabet it is difficult to follow if you aren't familiar with 20th century German history. The ease with which people were killed is gruesome but integral to the story and Larson does an admirable job describing the terror of German life in the 1930s, even for a protected ambassador. ( )
  book58lover | Oct 9, 2014 |
Beautifully written and intensely readable as this book is, I'm not at all surprised that this is going to be Tom Hanks' next foray into his effort to meticulously create films about the Second World War. The complete and utter failure of diplomatic measures on both sides of the conflict is laid out here in clear and horrifying detail, as well as the simultaneous excesses and terrors of Berlin under Nazi rule. Don't read this without a brick of Post-It tags, or else you're going to be dogearing every single page. ( )
  themythicalcodfish | Sep 7, 2014 |
Erik Larson continues to be a master at narrative nonfiction and In the Garden of Beasts is an engrossing story that you can't help but feel you're experiencing right alongside the protagonists. William Dodd was placed in Berlin as Ambassador by Roosevelt himself and most of those back in the State Department felt he was a poor choice. He didn't fit the mold by any means and I think that is why he was a good choice. He was a man of few means but of many (eloquent) words. He said what was on his mind and only afterward wondered if he should have been more "diplomatic" in his dealings with those in power in Germany. Years later, the Nazis taunted that he had no real impact while he was there and that he was much disliked by the German people. If he was so unimportant and insignificant why did they feel the need to publicly deride him as he was on his deathbed? Also, there was Dodd's daughter Martha who changed beaus about as often as most people change their clothes. A lot of the material used in the book came from her memoir and letters (as well as a variety of other sources such as Dodd's diary). Larson portrays the view that most Americans had of Germany pre-WWII which in hindsight makes us look idiotic, naive, and callous. We were too engrossed in our domestic affairs to truly see the atrocities that were already occurring and the power that was being amassed under Hitler to put a stop to one of the most horrendous wars of all time. If you're curious about this time in history or if you simply want to learn more about a simple man trying to accomplish big things with little to no support from his government then you should definitely check this one out. ( )
  AliceaP | Aug 10, 2014 |
Followed the reluctant US Ambassador and Cassandra Mr. Dodd and his family in mid-1930's Berlin. It took a while but he and his wife concluded as early as 1934 that war was inevitable and the hesitant treatment of the Hitler Regime led to WWII. A bit too much about the trampy daughter and the book jumped and ended fast after the "Knight of the Long Knives" but a fast and entertaining read about a time and a place that I lacked specifics on. ( )
  JBreedlove | Aug 2, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 195 (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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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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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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