In the Garden of Beasts

In the Garden of Beasts

Love, Terror, and An American Family in Hitler's Berlin

eBook - 2011
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Random House, Inc.

Erik Larson, New York Times bestselling author of Devil in the White City, delivers 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 Nazi Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.
    A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another, including with the suprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance—and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition.
    Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the expectedly charming--yet wholly sinister--Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.

Baker & Taylor
The best-selling author of Devil in the White City documents the efforts of first American ambassador to Hitler's Germany William E. Dodd to acclimate to a residence in an increasingly violent city where he is forced to associate with the Nazis while his daughter pursues a relationship with Gestapo chief Rudolf Diels. Reprint. A #1 best-seller.

Publisher: New York : Crown, c2011
ISBN: 9780307887955
Characteristics: 1 online resource.
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

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HCL_staff_reviews Oct 27, 2017

In 1933 Germany elected a new chancellor and a surprising resurgence appeared to occur in the once-decimated superpower nation. For newly-appointed American ambassador to Germany, William E. Dodd, and his family, Berlin is a city of enchantment and reports of brutality towards communists and Jews seem to them exaggerated. But as their stay in Germany continues, the darker truths of the new Germany become impossible to ignore. Larson follows up <i>Devil in the White City</i> with another intimate account of a big historical topic and the personal nature of the narrative illuminates Nazi Germany unlike any other nonfiction book I've encountered. Compelling, readable and fascinating from beginning to end. — Anne P., Washburn Library

mryanhess Oct 13, 2017

If you're looking for an intimate portrait of how real people witnessed the rise of a brutal dictatorship, this book will satisfy...and terrify. I found it especially interesting to watch the characters steadily realize what the Nazi's were leading the world toward...and how few listened to them.

TechLibrarian Aug 26, 2017

I listened to this audiobook a few years ago. At the time I only thought it was so-so--it's quite suspenseful, as the plot and tension build slowly. I could appreciate that it was all meticulously researched using primary sources, and this gave great insight into the characters. I've been thinking about it lots over the past few weeks, as current events seem eerily similar. Thus, I thought I'd write a review and add it to my list of recommended reads. I think it's important that everyone understand this history.

Jul 22, 2017

Fascinating and terrifying book! Felt like the author was reading the book to me -

Jul 04, 2017

Innocents Abroad: Between the Wars. This story of ambassadorial intrigue as the Nazis take power in republican Germany -- in other words, fiddling while Rome burns -- is not as interesting as it should be. The elements are all there, but the author does not have the skills, or call it the killer instinct, to bring the generally well-meaning but confused and complacent U.S. ambassador and his daughter to life. I wonder how the film will turn out; they're going to have to do back flips to portray them as heroic, or even very sympathetic. Maybe they won't, and instead will portray them as they were. Wouldn't that be interesting?

Feb 09, 2017

In the Garden of Beasts is richly described, from the scenery to the characters, in a manner that gives a horrifying immediacy to a crucial turning point in history. From our vantage point in the future, we are forced to see through the eyes of people living in the time, who had no idea of the horrors to come. It is an uncomfortable but revealing perspective.

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Jan 04, 2017

This book was recommend to me by others also wanting to discover how an educated and tolerant society like Germany in the mid 30's was so wholly consumed by the Nazi machine. It goes along with "Hitler's Willing Executioners" as a must read to gather some perspective on how this comes about, and if it could, again.

Dec 01, 2016

One of the scariest books but unmatched for historical fiction...the real history of pre-war Germany and the parallels in the USA of the very recent times (21st century), make one shudder. This should be required reading for all who have attended public school in the last 30 years.

AL_CHRISTINES Oct 16, 2016

This book drops you into the middle of Berlin during the rise of the Nazi party. An intriguing story of outsiders living in the changing and ultimately, terrifying time before the outbreak of a world war. At times the many "characters" were difficult to remember, and sometimes I felt Larson got a little too caught up in details, but this was a great addition to those interested in WWII.

Mar 28, 2016

I hadn't read Erik Larson before (I know, I know), and I am happy to say this guy lives up to the hype. It's a compelling story with plot and intrigue and characters you care about, but it also avoids one of my pet peeves - made up conversations between historical figures. Plus, the subject matter is at once alarming and thought-provoking - it seems like a pretty straight line from the anti-Semitism of the US to the complacence about Hitler's rise to power to the Holocaust, but hindsight is 20/20, right? I also wish there were no implications for the current day, but that wish is part of the dangerous complacence, isn't it? The point is, this book provoked FEELINGS, which I was not expecting. Also, I would like a whole book on Martha Dodd, the ambassador's daughter. Dang, she got into some stuff.

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Nov 16, 2017

a fascinating look into life in Berlin when Germany was slowly being drawn into Hitler's web. at that time, everyone was oh so hopeful the extremists could be reasoned with, and that things would not be "that bad". lesson learned.

Feb 09, 2017

In the diplomatic service, Berlin would normally be considered a plum ambassadorial appointment, a great European capital exceeded only by London or Paris. But in the spring of 1933, the recently elected Franklin Roosevelt was having trouble filling the position. The political situation in Germany was turbulent, and Adolf Hitler had just been appointed Chancellor. Meanwhile Roosevelt had more consuming problems closer to home, dealing with the Great Depression. Just before congress closed session in June 1933, Roosevelt appointed William E. Dodd, a historian from the University of Chicago, to the post. At least four previous candidates had declined the position. Dodd, his wife Mattie, and adult children Bill and Martha, decamped for Berlin, becoming first-hand witnesses to the rise of National Socialism during their four year tenure in the German capital.

ajmccreary Jul 01, 2016

Chronicles the tenure of a history professor turned US ambassador to Germany during the early 1930s; the dalliances of his daughter with Jewish literary figures, Nazi power brokers, and Soviet spies; and the reluctance of all -- but especially of those back in Washington -- to fully register the implications of Hitler's rise.

Jun 08, 2013

This book takes place in Germany prior to WW II. Get a glimpse of what was happening in Germany as Hitler rose to power.

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ajmccreary Jul 01, 2016

ajmccreary thinks this title is suitable for All Ages


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Feb 09, 2017

There existed at this time a widespread perception that Hitler’s government could not possibly endure.


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