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

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in… (edition 2011)

by Erik Larson, Stephen Hoye (Reader)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,2982461,149 (3.83)221
Title:In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
Authors:Erik Larson
Other authors:Stephen Hoye (Reader)
Info:Random House Audio (2011), Edition: Unabridged, Audio CD
Collections:Your library
Tags:history, World War II

Work details

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson

  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
    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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» See also 221 mentions

English (237)  French (3)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (246)
Showing 1-5 of 237 (next | show all)
Not as intriguing as past books like Devil in the White City or Thunderstruck from Larson. The story offers a close look at the deadly crazed personalities that rose to power in Germany and much of the book details the dark turns of the atmosphere of the nation and Ambassador Dodd's struggle to comprehend the madness of the time. The contrast of Dodd and his Jeffersonian ideals make for a sharp contrast with the bloodthirsty and duplicitous Hitler regime. The parts of the book dealing with his daughter, Martha, are far less interesting. Her love life does offer a look at how easily many were seduced by the Nazi image and later the Soviet one through her affairs with high ranking men from both. Ultimately though its difficult to relate to her, with how easily she ignored the obvious abuses that were happening in Germany. Likewise, the elder Dodd's fight against the country-club elites of the foreign service crowd is admirable in a way, but in light of what was happening in Germany it just seems trite. Nonetheless the book shows well the difficulty of maintaining diplomatic relations with a country that is taking such an obvious turn for the worse. The book's coverage of the 'Night of the Long Knives' is perhaps its best section and Ambassador Dodd is at his most human at the end of his days in Germany as he at last sees the true dark nature of things. The book makes for a good supplementary reading on the rise of the Nazis in Germany. ( )
  Humberto.Ferre | Sep 28, 2016 |
Ugggh.....this book was real work to get through. So, so many random details and very unevenly related. I am disappointed because [bc:The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America|21996|The Devil in the White City Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America|Erik Larson|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1167325045s/21996.jpg|3486041]is such a great book but this one is.....not so much. I found it odd that Ambassador Dodd's efforts to stop the Nazis were lauded at the end but his actual acts were so sparsely covered in the text- or maybe I was just unconscious from boredom when I was reading that part. And oh my gosh the daughter- what a nitwit. All in all just a chore- if you are dying to read about Nazis then this book is for you, if not - don't bother. ( )
  Maureen_McCombs | Aug 19, 2016 |
Lately I have become very interested in WWII and the incidents surrounding it. I've read many different view points. This book is from the view of Ambassador Dodd and his family who was the American Ambassador during Hitler's reign. The Dodd family was there from 1933-1937. This book is really well written but what made the audio book enjoyable was Stephen Hoye reading it. I want to know what other books he has read because he is so smooth that he sucked me right in. I was worried the book was going to bore me as an audio book but it really was quite good. I was in Berlin last year so I could really visualize where they were talking about. This book made me angry too. I wanted to reach right into my car stereo and slap Martha Dodd very hard. I also wanted to shake the American government and anyone who thought they needed to be careful instead of stopping Hitler. To know that he could have been stopped in 1933 and no one did anything is just appalling. To know that a lot of Americans wanted to rid the country of Jews like in Germany is also appalling. This book makes me want to learn even more about WWII. Great book. Fantastic as an audio book. ( )
  MHanover10 | Jul 10, 2016 |
That it isn't fiction is the most incredible thing about this book. In the Garden of Beasts chronicles the early years of Hitler's Germany, 1933 through 1937, from the perspective of American Ambassador William Dodd and his family. It makes a great complementary read to Ken Follett's Winter of the World as it renders in detail the pivotal point of that book, the ascension of Nazi Germany, without the distraction of the fictional characters and sub plots. ( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
Also reviewed here: http://porcelainulairi.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/review-in-the-garden-of-beasts/

Summary: Clearly, this is a story about Berlin during the rise of Hitler. It does not take place during the war itself, but rather the years leading up to it. The story begins in 1933 and follows the newly appointed American ambassador and his family. William Dodd was a frugal man trying to live within his means, while his daughter, Martha, fell in love with the glamorous parties held by high ranking officials of the Third Reich. Larson uses journals, letters, and other personal writing to weave the narrative. While the story mostly pertains to Martha and her many trysts, we are given a different look at America’s take on the early years of Hitler’s Germany and an inside look at some of the most mysterious and intimidating people of that time. The book ends not long after the Night of the Long Knives (which is basically a killing spree orchestrated by Hitler), and Dodd being removed from office. And no, I am not spoiling anything for you. It’s history.

Thoughts: I have always been relatively interested in German history. Part of it is that most of my ancestors were from that country, but a lot of it is because I am baffled at how the world allowed the whole thing to happen for so long. Despite the fact that I took a class in college, there was so much in this book that was new to me. Some of the top officials, such as Goring, are seen in a new light due to the parties that were attended by Dodd and his family. It was particularly interesting to hear about Martha’s lack of decency and everyone’s reaction to it (or lack thereof in the case of her parents).

Larson did a lot of homework. By using personal writing, we are able to get a glimpse of what people were really thinking. And let me tell you… it horrified me. Even Americans were talking about “the Jewish problem,” and even after seeing terrible act after terrible act performed by the Nazis, they did nothing. Even after a large event were many were murdered, there was no reaction. Here is a quote from the book that I think sums it up:

Hitler’s purge would become known as “The Night of the Long Knives” and in time would be considered one of the most important episodes in his ascent, the first act in the great tragedy of appeasement. Initially, however, its significance was lost. No government recalled its ambassador or filed a protest; the populace did not rise in revulsion.

Reading this book put a whole new spin on my view of America prior to entering World War II. I am not sure if that is altogether a good thing.

Review: This book stirred something within me. A little bit of bafflement, a dash of confusion, a splash of curiosity, and a whole lot of anger. It got me thinking. It made me question what they teach in history class. While the synopsis on the book cover makes it seem like this is a story about Dodd, the majority of the narrative surrounds his daughter. I am okay with that, since she was the one mingling with Nazis and living a more active life. It kept me reading. The first 50 or so pages were a little slow moving, and when Larson does talk about Dodd, it is mostly about the fact that he only wants to complete his book about the South and being ambassador to pesky Germany gives him no free time to do so. Also, when I was finished, I felt like I had read 600 pages, when in fact it is around 330 (without the appendices). Still, the book was interesting and thought provoking. My book club had a very lengthy and in-depth discussion about it. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in history or general non-fiction. So I guess you could say, I am glad I was forced to finish this one. ( )
  Ulairi | Jun 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 237 (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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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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