Synopses & Reviews
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 surprisingly 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 Goring 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.
"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. He surveys Berlin, circa 1933-1934, from the perspective of two Americans: Roosevelt's ambassador to Germany, William Dodd, an academic historian and Jeffersonian liberal who hoped Nazism would de-fang itself (he urged Hitler to adopt America's milder conventions of anti-Jewish discrimination), and Dodd's daughter Martha, a sexual free spirit who loved Nazism's vigor and ebullience. At first dazzled by the glamorous world of the Nazi ruling elite, they soon started noticing signs of its true nature: the beatings meted out to Americans who failed to salute passing storm troopers; the oppressive surveillance; the incessant propaganda; the intimidation and persecution of friends; the fanaticism lurking beneath the surface charm of its officialdom. Although the narrative sometimes bogs down in Dodd's wranglings with the State Department and Martha's soap opera, Larson offers 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. Photos. (May)" Publishers Weekly (starred review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Larson is a marvelous writer...superb at creating characters with a few short strokes." New York Times Book Review
"Excellent....suspenseful, [has] the feel of a John le Carre novel.” Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"A brilliant and often infuriating account of the experiences and evolving attitudes of the Dodd family during Hitler’s critical first year in power. With the benefit of hindsight, of course, the Dodds seem almost criminally ignorant, but Larson treats them with a degree of compassion that elevates them to tragic status." Booklist(Starred, Boxed Review)
"Chillingly portrays the terror and oppression that slowly settle over Germany in 1933." Library Journal
"The exciting, improbable adventures of a young Spanish spy who managed to become Britains most effective tool in deceiving Hitler. A lively, rollicking good read."
—Kirkus Reviews "Epic intelligence coups of WWII unreel in this colorful caper saga. Taltys Pujol is a captivating character with a talent for operatic confabulation, but Garbo is just the alluring lead in massive deceptions that the author likens to Hollywood productions, complete with rubber tanks, fake ships, and a Montgomery impersonator. The result is a rollicking story of wartime eccentrics and their labyrinthine mind games."
—Publishers Weekly, starred "Agent Garbo is the fascinating story of a man whose wit, cunning, and steely nerves made the Allied victory possible in World War II. Stephan Talty's unsurpassed research brings forth one of the war's greatest agents in a must-read book for those who think they know all the great World War II stories."
—Gregory Freeman, author of The Forgotten 500
"Juan Pujol is deserving of this biography, which captures not only his humanity, but also his humanism. Stephan Talty has delivered a beautiful report of every impossible day of Pujol's life
, and AGENT GARBO is a confirmation of Donne's devotional, that 'when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language.'"
"Talty gives us an appreciably richer picture not only of Pujol but also of an interwar period that could produce someone willing and able to undertake the duplicity required of a double agent. Along the way, the author captures the chilling realities of bloody battlefields, tense war rooms and besieged London. Elegantly crafted."
--The Wall Street Journal
"A wonderful book for WWII buffs, a true-life spy thriller with about as much intrigue and excitement as youand#8217;d find in a le Carrand#233; novel."
"The exciting, improbable adventures of a young Spanish spy who managed to become Britainand#8217;s most effective tool in deceiving Hitler. A lively, rollicking good read."
"Epic intelligence coups of WWII unreel in this colorful caper saga. Taltyand#8217;s Pujol is a captivating character with a talent for operatic confabulation, but Garbo is just the alluring lead in massive deceptions that the author likens to Hollywood productions, complete with rubber tanks, fake ships, and a Montgomery impersonator. The result is a rollicking story of wartime eccentrics and their labyrinthine mind games."
--Publishers Weekly, starred
and#8220;AGENTand#160;GARBO is the fascinating story of a man whose wit, cunning, and steely nerves made the Allied victory possible in World War II. Stephan Talty's unsurpassed research brings forth one of the war's greatest agents in a must-read book for those who think they know all the great World War II stories.and#8221;
and#8212; Gregory Freeman, author of The Forgotten 500
The little-known World War II espionage story of Spaniard Juan Pujol, who convinced Hitlers Abwehr that he had a ring of spies in Britain, only to pull off one of the greatest feats of any double agent: he fooled Hitler and disguised D-Day.
“The book presses ever forward down a path of historical marvels and astonishing facts. The effect is like a master class that’s accessible to anyone, and Agent Garbo
often reads as though it were written in a single, perfect draft.”—The Atlantic
Before he remade himself as the master spy known as Garbo, Juan Pujol was nothing more than a Barcelona poultry farmer. But as Garbo, he turned in a masterpiece of deception that changed the course of World War II. Posing as the Nazis’ only reliable spy inside England, he created an imaginary million-man army, invented armadas out of thin air, and brought a vast network of fictional subagents to life. The scheme culminated on June 6, 1944, when Garbo convinced the Germans that the Allied forces approaching Normandy were just a feint—the real invasion would come at Calais. Because of his brilliant trickery, the Allies were able to land with much less opposition and eventually push on to Berlin.
As incredible as it sounds, everything in Agent Garbo is true, based on years of archival research and interviews with Pujol’s family. This pulse-pounding thriller set in the shadow world of espionage and deception reveals the shocking reality of spycraft that occurs just below the surface of history.
“Stephan Talty’s unsurpassed research brings forth one of the war’s greatest agents in a must-read book for those who think they know all the great World War II stories.” —Gregory Freeman, author of The Forgotten 500
Were the D-Day landings saved from failure because of a lone secret agent?
Agent Garbo tells the astonishing story of a self-made secret agent who matched wits with the best minds of the Third Reich and#8212; and won. Juan Pujol was a nobody, a Barcelona poultry farmer determined to oppose the Nazis. Using only his gift for daring falsehoods, Pujol became Germanyand#8217;s most valued agent and#8212; or double agent: it took four tries before the British believed he was really on the Alliesand#8217; side.
In the guise of Garbo, Pujol turned in a masterpiece of deception worthy of his big-screen namesake. He created an imaginary million-man army, invented armadas out of thin air, and brought a vast network of fictional subagents whirring to life. His unwitting German handlers believed every word, and banked on Garboand#8217;s lies as their only source of espionage within Great Britain.
For his greatest performance, Pujol had to convince the German High Command that the D-Day invasion of Normandy was a feint and the real attack was aimed at Calais. The Nazis bought it, turning the tide of battle at the crucial moment.
Based on years of archival research and interviews with Pujoland#8217;s family, Agent Garbo is a true-life thriller set in the shadow world of espionage and deception.
About the Author
STEPHAN TALTY is a widely published journalist who has contributed to the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Mens Journal, Time Out New York, Details, and many other publications. He is the author of Escape from the Land of Snows, the best-selling Empire of Blue Water, The Illustrious Dead, and Mulatto America.
Table of Contents
Cast of Charactersand#8195;vii
PART I: THE MAKING OF A SPY
1. Tom Mix in Barcelonaand#8195;3
2. The Training Groundand#8195;11
4. The White Cityand#8195;35
5. The Gameand#8195;43
6. The Snakepitand#8195;55
PART II: GARBOand#8217;S RISE
7. A Fresh Riot of Ideasand#8195;65
8. The Systemand#8195;81
9. The Debutand#8195;91
10. The Blacks and the Santa Clausesand#8195;98
11. The Rehearsaland#8195;109
PART III: THE FAR SHORE
12. The Dry Runand#8195;123
13. An Intimate Deceptionand#8195;132
15. The Interloperand#8195;153
16. The Ghost Armyand#8195;167
17. The Backdropand#8195;174
18. The Buildupand#8195;186
19. The Prisonerand#8195;197
20. The Hoursand#8195;207
21. The Weaponand#8195;223
PART IV: BREAKOFF
22. The Endand#8195;235
23. The Returnand#8195;241
Appendix A: Organizationsand#8195;253
Appendix B: The Garbo Networkand#8195;255