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

by

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

ISBN13: 9780307408853
ISBN10: 030740885x
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Erik Larson has been widely acclaimed as a master of narrative non-fiction, and in his new book, 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.

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 Dodd's 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.

Review:

"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...a fresh picture of these terrrible events." The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"By far his best and most enthralling work of novelistic history....Powerful, poignant...a transportingly true story." The New York Times

Review:

"Tells a fascinating story brilliantly well." Financial Times

Review:

"Highly compelling....Larson brings Berlin roaring to life in all its glamor and horror...a welcome new chapter in the vast canon of World War II." Christian Science Monitor

Review:

"A stunning work of history." Newsweek

Review:

"A gripping, deeply-intimate narrative with a climax that reads like the best political thriller, where we are stunned with each turn of the page." Louisville Courier Journal

Review:

"Electrifying reading...fascinating." Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Review:

"Larson's latest chronicle of history has as much excitement as a thriller novel, and it's all the more thrilling because it's all true." Asbury Park Press

Review:

"A superb book...nothing less than masterful." Toronto Globe and Mail

Review:

"Even though we know how it will end — the book's climax, the Night of the Long Knives, being just the beginning, this is a page-turner, full of flesh and blood people and monsters too, whose charms are particularly disturbing." Portland Herald

Review:

"Larson succeeds brilliantly...offers a fascinating window into the year when the world began its slow slide into war." Maclean's Magazine

Review:

"Erik Larson tackles this outstanding period of history as fully and compellingly as he portrayed the events in his bestseller, The Devil In The White City. With each page, more horrors are revealed, making it impossible to put down. In the Garden of Beasts reads like the true thriller it is." BookReporter.com

Review:

"Larson's strengths as a storyteller have never been stronger than they are here, and this story is far more important than either The Devil in the White City or Thunderstruck. How the United States dithered as Hitler rose to power is a cautionary tale that bears repeating, and Larson has told it masterfully." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Review:

"Reads like an elegant thriller...utterly compelling...marvelous stuff. An excellent and entertaining book that deserves to be a bestseller, and probably will be." The Washington Post

Review:

"Larson's scholarship is impressive, but it's his pacing and knack for suspense that elevates the book from the matter-of-fact to the sublime." Pittsburgh Review

Review:

"A master at writing true tales as riveting as fiction." People, Starred Review

Review:

"Larson has done it again, expertly weaving together a fresh new narrative from ominous days of the 20th century." Associated Press

Review:

"[L]ike slipping slowly into a nightmare, with logic perverted and morality upended....It all makes for a powerful, unsettling immediacy." Bruce Handy, Vanity Fair

Review:

"Dazzling....Reads like a suspense novel, replete with colorful characters, both familiar and those previously relegated to the shadows. Like Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories or Victor Klemperer's Diaries, In the Garden of Beasts is an on-the-ground documentary of a society going mad in slow motion." The Chicago Sun-Times

Review:

"[G]ripping, a nightmare narrative of a terrible time. It raises again the question never fully answered about the Nazi era — what evil humans are capable of, and what means are necessary to cage the beast." The Seattle Times

Review:

"In this mesmerizing portrait of the Nazi capital, Larson plumbs a far more diabolical urban cauldron than in his bestselling The Devil in the White City...a vivid, atmospheric panorama of the Third Reich and its leaders, including murderous Nazi factional infighting, through the accretion of small crimes and petty thuggery." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

About the Author

Erik Larson is the author of the national bestsellers Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City, and Isaac's Storm. ErikLarsonBooks.com

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 9 comments:

Sheila Deeth, April 18, 2013 (view all comments by Sheila Deeth)


Subtitled “Love, Terror, and an America Family in Hitler’s Berlin,” the love and terror in Erik Larson’s The Garden of Beasts is carefully muted and well-hidden, clinically observed through a historian’s eyes and the writings of the various characters. It’s fascinating to look at Hitler’s Germany from a different point of view as World War II approaches. But the reader is kept safely at arm’s length, as if watching a silent movie with solemn voice-over. The result is a powerful mix of the well-known and predictable with those small surprises and insights of individual lives.

The US Ambassador Dodd is torn between a historian’s recognition of truths that must be slowly told and a politician’s need for instant words and instant responses. Seen as alternately weak and strong, he walks a fine line and annoys almost everyone, eventually destroying his career on a raft of good intentions. Meanwhile his daughter makes decisions based on feelings, while her emotions seem to rely on the whim of the moment. We know she’s in love because she hangs out with the same guy too much and her diary says she likes him. We know she’s not in love because she’s going out with someone else. Almost a distraction at the start of the book, her shifting relationships eventually reflect the shifting tides of public opinion, leaving her always a few steps to the side where it’s never quite safe.

The “Jewish problem” is told unflinchingly, with honest recognition of glass houses on both sides of the pond. There’s a quiet recognition of how quickly society's acceptably wrong attitudes become vicious cruelty. Tolerance and good intentions blind many to what’s really going on. Fanaticism becomes something to be aspired to. Wrong becomes right if the purpose seems good. And surely no true leader should be swayed by the opinions of the rest of the world, or so they'd have us believe.

The tragedy is well-known as familiar players take the stage. But the underlying fall of normalcy is what Erik Larson’s book makes so clear. The reader doesn’t enter into anybody’s lives, anymore than Dodd and his family entered into the lives of the German people when they traveled there. But we observe and we draw our own conclusions, hopefully ones that might help us see more clearly in the world of today. Genuinely, but not emotionally involving, The Garden of Beasts sheds light on the past and invites reflection on the present with clear historical research and quiet sympathy for Dodd, trapped on the border where beasts roamed free.



Disclosure: We’re reading this for our book group.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Victoria R Copelton, January 19, 2013 (view all comments by Victoria R Copelton)
the reality of life. During Hitler's Berlin is vividly portrayed. ambassadors have to be careful even though this one takes chances in a time when no one escapes the scrutiny of the complex system of Berlin spies in wwII. Reading this book brought me into that time period with the safety of a spectator. Because It is clear that I would be scared to death to actually be there in person. There were many brave souls who show up in this book...prepared to be caught by a paranoid regime and their courage is striking
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
mikeczyz, January 16, 2013 (view all comments by mikeczyz)
I just started and finished this book. A very interesting account of pre-WW2 Berlin as told through the eyes of the US ambassador to Germany and his daughter. I thought it was going to be dry and a bit of a chore to plow through, but was pleasantly surprised. There were very few ZZZZZ moments and it really did a lot to help explain to me how the monster known as Hitler came to power. Highly recommended.
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 9 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307408853
Author:
Larson, Erik
Publisher:
Broadway Books
Subject:
Holocaust
Subject:
Crime - True Crime
Subject:
World History-Germany
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20120531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
480
Dimensions:
7.9 x 5.1 x 1.2 in 0.84 lb

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In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.95 In Stock
Product details 480 pages Broadway Books - English 9780307408853 Reviews:
"Review" by , "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...a fresh picture of these terrrible events."
"Review" by , "By far his best and most enthralling work of novelistic history....Powerful, poignant...a transportingly true story."
"Review" by , "Tells a fascinating story brilliantly well."
"Review" by , "Highly compelling....Larson brings Berlin roaring to life in all its glamor and horror...a welcome new chapter in the vast canon of World War II."
"Review" by , "A stunning work of history."
"Review" by , "A gripping, deeply-intimate narrative with a climax that reads like the best political thriller, where we are stunned with each turn of the page."
"Review" by , "Electrifying reading...fascinating."
"Review" by , "Larson's latest chronicle of history has as much excitement as a thriller novel, and it's all the more thrilling because it's all true."
"Review" by , "A superb book...nothing less than masterful."
"Review" by , "Even though we know how it will end — the book's climax, the Night of the Long Knives, being just the beginning, this is a page-turner, full of flesh and blood people and monsters too, whose charms are particularly disturbing."
"Review" by , "Larson succeeds brilliantly...offers a fascinating window into the year when the world began its slow slide into war."
"Review" by , "Erik Larson tackles this outstanding period of history as fully and compellingly as he portrayed the events in his bestseller, The Devil In The White City. With each page, more horrors are revealed, making it impossible to put down. In the Garden of Beasts reads like the true thriller it is."
"Review" by , "Larson's strengths as a storyteller have never been stronger than they are here, and this story is far more important than either The Devil in the White City or Thunderstruck. How the United States dithered as Hitler rose to power is a cautionary tale that bears repeating, and Larson has told it masterfully."
"Review" by , "Reads like an elegant thriller...utterly compelling...marvelous stuff. An excellent and entertaining book that deserves to be a bestseller, and probably will be."
"Review" by , "Larson's scholarship is impressive, but it's his pacing and knack for suspense that elevates the book from the matter-of-fact to the sublime."
"Review" by , "A master at writing true tales as riveting as fiction."
"Review" by , "Larson has done it again, expertly weaving together a fresh new narrative from ominous days of the 20th century."
"Review" by , "[L]ike slipping slowly into a nightmare, with logic perverted and morality upended....It all makes for a powerful, unsettling immediacy."
"Review" by , "Dazzling....Reads like a suspense novel, replete with colorful characters, both familiar and those previously relegated to the shadows. Like Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories or Victor Klemperer's Diaries, In the Garden of Beasts is an on-the-ground documentary of a society going mad in slow motion."
"Review" by , "[G]ripping, a nightmare narrative of a terrible time. It raises again the question never fully answered about the Nazi era — what evil humans are capable of, and what means are necessary to cage the beast."
"Review" by , "In this mesmerizing portrait of the Nazi capital, Larson plumbs a far more diabolical urban cauldron than in his bestselling The Devil in the White City...a vivid, atmospheric panorama of the Third Reich and its leaders, including murderous Nazi factional infighting, through the accretion of small crimes and petty thuggery."
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