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

by Erik Larson, Stephen Hoye (Reader)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,3051981,647 (3.82)168
Member:debs4jc
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
Rating:****
Tags:history, World War II

Work details

In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

  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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Showing 1-5 of 187 (next | show all)
Larson’s latest book focuses on Berlin in 1933-1934 and the American ambassador William Dodd. Dodd was not Roosevelt’s first choice, and had little political experience. Dodd was a University of Chicago professor before being sent to Berlin. Although Dodd quickly realized the Nazi’s evil goals, it was some time before his daughter Martha, a free spirit, quit being enchanted with the Nazi SS officers. Overall, a tale of diplomacy and intrigue with an unlikely hero.
  ktoonen | Jun 7, 2014 |
Chilling account of Hitler's rise to power seen from the perspective of the American Ambassador and his daughter. ( )
  imjustmea | Jun 1, 2014 |
There were lots of interesting bits and facts, but I never felt that Mr. Larson established a convincing narrative. As well, there were a number of times when he made statements of foreshadowing that just weren't borne out in subsequent chapters. The story of Ambassador Dodd is an interesting one but I didn't feel like this book did full justice to it. ( )
  tjsjohanna | May 14, 2014 |
What do you say about a chilling, true story in which banality and terror mix in about equal parts? For one midwestern professor, appointed as ambassador to (barely) pre-war Germany, "It was as if he had entered the dark forest of a fairy tale where all the rules of right and wrong were upended." p.328. ( )
  KarenIrelandPhillips | Apr 21, 2014 |
What would it be like to rub elbows with the higher-ups of the Nazi party before everyone knew what they were really like, what they were really doing? That's the question Larson tries to answer in this account of the experiences of US Ambassador to Germany William Dodd and his family. They were in Berlin from 1933 to 1937, before the names Goering and Goebbels became shudder-inducing to the general public. Dodd himself was pretty one-note; suspicious of the German government's intentions and unpopular with his peers and superiors for his criticism of the wealthy "old boys'" club of the diplomatic community. His daughter Martha was a free spirit before it was anywhere near acceptable, and she spent her time gadding about town with romantic partners who were completely unsuitable for the daughter of a diplomat.

The strength of the book was in resisting the temptation to portray anyone as if they should have known more than they could have. These were just people thrust into an unfamiliar situation and trying to make sense of it. The weakness was that the story is just too diffuse; Dodd isn't much of a diplomat (unsurprising, since his background was in academia), so he's ineffectual in his role. Martha comes across as shallow and naive, not wanting the ugly realities to invade her good-time party. There's no one to really root for, and no satisfying ending except that Dodd's instincts were right about the direction the German government was heading. ( )
1 vote ursula | Apr 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 187 (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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(see all 2 descriptions)

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)

(summary from another edition)

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