Synopses & Reviews
“Larson is a marvelous writer...superb at creating characters with a few short strokes.”—New York Times Book Review
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 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.
"Larson (Devil in the White City) delivers another spellbinding and lively history in this exploration of Adolf Hitler's rise to power as seen by U.S. Ambassador to Germany William E. Dodd and his daughter, Martha. Larson contrasts Dodd's family life with the larger political and cultural shifts occurring in the years leading up to WWII. And he provides new insights into U.S. foreign policy via a close examination of Dodd's letters and writings. Stephen Hoye provides compelling narration and reads with a commanding voice that is deep but never intrusive. His narration is deliberate and forces listeners pay close attention to the author's prose. He also captures Martha's emotion and excitement as she falls in and eventually out of line with the Nazi Party and engages in several affairs. The narrator's tone and delivery match Larson's prose, never condemning Martha's actions, but simply presenting her view of the world. At times, Hoye's narration slows, but his emphasis, inflection, flawless pronunciation, and energy will keep listeners engaged until the very end. A Crown hardcover. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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