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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

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,5582921,252 (3.82)270
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.
Member:fletchette
Title:In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
Authors:Erik Larson
Info:Crown (2011), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 464 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:WW II, Rescue

Work details

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

  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
    Every Man Dies Alone 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.
  4. 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)
  5. 20
    Resisting Hitler. Mildred Harnack and the Red Orchestra by Shareen Blair Brysac (marieke54)
  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 282 (next | show all)
There are probably thousands of books written about Hitler, the Third Reich and WWII, and while this is just another to be added to that ever growing list, it is definitely worth a read. This book mainly covers Berlin from 1933 (the year Hitler becomes Chancellor) to 1934 when Hitler becomes the President of Germany (and maintains being the Chancellor), and focuses mainly on the U.S. Ambassador to Berlin, William Dodd, and his rather unconventional daughter, Martha.

Larson always does extensive research for his books but they read like novels; they are far from dry, dull facts. He gives you background on why America was so reluctant to speak out against the Hitler Regime, (America was afraid the Germans would default on their bonds and they would not get their money back) and weaves in lots of little tidbits like Hitler’s favorite movie was King Kong, and how the regime tried to control even the minutest detail of everyday life, like forbidding the use of Jewish names while trying to spell out something, ie “D as in David.”

He is also an excellent descriptive writer, and does a wonderful job of making Berlin come alive. Most of us think of Berlin as the bombed out City just after the war, but Larson shows us the modern bustling city filled with nightclubs, department stores and cafes. You almost feel as though you were there.

We watch as Hitler becomes more and more powerful and begins to arm Germany, we watch as Dodd and Martha become increasingly alarmed , and we watch the U.S. State department do nothing but poke fun at Dodd and basically ignore him.

Hindsight is of course 20/20, and Dodd is vindicated in the end, but oh, if more people had taken him seriously could there have been a different outcome? When Hitler breaks the Treaty of Versailles and leaves the League of Nations no one does anything, this was the pivotal point when something could have been done, but no one does anything, and we all know what happened next.

This is a great read, highly informative and entertaining.
( )
  tshrope | Jan 13, 2020 |
I like Erik Larson for kind-of melodramatic popular history with a focus on individual stories within larger events, but this one was a bit meh. Although Martha Dodd, sleeping her way through the third Reich, up to and almost-including Hitler himself? Spirit animal. You go girlfriend. ( )
  Shabraque | Nov 19, 2019 |
compelling, informative, and engrossing. ( )
  charlyk | Nov 15, 2019 |
As a history of a specific time period in the rise of Hitler ans Nazi Germany, this book gives you an excellent timeline of the events as they unfolded. In many ways, its a bit frightening to see how the playbook used (and well documented) by fascistic authoritarians in the past can be resurrected and effectively used again. The main impediment to this in the U.S. is the sheer size and diversity of the country. The raw number of people susceptible in this country may be significant, but not enough to dominate the overall population.

The only real drawbacks I found to the book were the emphasis on the ambassador's personal idiosyncrasies and his daughter's romantic foibles. ( )
  grandpahobo | Sep 26, 2019 |
Engaging account of William E. Dodd's tenure as US ambassador to Germany during the 1933-1937 period. Much of the book focuses on the period 1933-1934, up to the point of the "Night of the Long Knives." Larson tends to be sympathetic to, though not uncritical of, Dodd, who was not a diplomat by training (Dodd was a well-known historian, who got the job in no small measure because President Franklin Roosevelt couldn't find anyone else). There's also quite a bit of discussion regarding Dodd's wayward daughter, Martha, who had a number of indiscreet flings in Berlin. Over all, like a lot of Larson's books, I found the pace and the writing engaging. There's still the maddening habit of Larson to use few photographs in his book. There's also a few odd glitches in the book. Surprisingly, considering Dodd was a Wilson scholar, Edward M. House (a Dodd confidant) is not identified by his major role as a Wilson confidant. And in a key encounter between Franz von Papen and Dodd, in which the latter blames ham-fisted German diplomacy for war with the US in 1917, Larsen omits that von Papen himself was a ham-fisted diplomat in Washington in that time period. Also, he has Martin Dies running HUAC in the 50s, which was not the case. Other than that, though, a solid book, and worth reading. ( )
  EricCostello | Sep 16, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 282 (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 (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Larson, ErikAuthorprimary 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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