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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
3,4592061,552 (3.83)175
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 197 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  TheJeanette | Dec 2, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 197 (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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