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In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin Hardcover – May 10 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; American First edition (May 10 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307408841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307408846
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 16.3 x 3.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #54,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Nicole Findlay on June 24 2011
Format: Hardcover
I dragged this heavy tome on a recent business trip and found myself utterly engrossed. I could not put it down. This is Larson's best so far. Written in an engaging narrative style, this non-fiction work traces Hitler's rise from Chancellor of Germany to dictator through the eyes of an American history professor and his daughter.

Appointed ambassador to Germany in 1933, Dodd, his wife and two adult children are initially enamoured with the changes and energy they find in Germany (Dodd had studied there in his youth). His daughter Martha, willful, self-absorbed, bright and naive is especially enthralled and counts Nazi officials among her beaus. Over time their enthusiasm for the regime wanes as it implements increasingly draconian measures against its own people.

Ambassador Dodd finds himself a Cassandra-like figure, warning the American administration of Germany's rearmament to no avail.

While readers may be familiar with this period of history, Larson brings a fresh perspective. Reading in the Garden of Beasts is liking watching history unfold before your eyes. It's a cautionary tale of apathy and denial that bears remembering.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Grandma S. on March 25 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was recommended to me by a friend who was born, as I was , during WW II, but she was born in Germany and I was born in England. We both felt we learned a great deal that we hadn't previously known about the years leading up to the war: startling revelations about attitudes in the US at that time. I have since bought the book for my husband, my son, one of my sons-in-law and one of my daughters: they have all been fascinated and have passed the book on or recommended it to others. I think a book like this, so thoroughly researched and yet so easy to read, can teach us a great deal about a conflict we should not forget. I grew up in the aftermath of WW II and it was constantly spoken of , but for my children and grandchildren it is just another piece of history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paul Bard on Jan. 15 2012
Format: Hardcover
The book is a wonderful presentation of the real attitude of the American societytoward the Hitler regime. The American public in the best case was totally indifferent for the fate of the Jews in the Hitler regime.
The description in the book is excellent. You have to know a great deel of WWII history to understand the description of the heros of the story.
It is an excellent book.

Paul Bard
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By PT Cruiser TOP 50 REVIEWER on June 27 2012
Format: Hardcover
Whenever I read the history of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party during World War II, I come back to the same questions, "How could the people living in Germany allow this to happen? Didn't they realize how evil Hitler was?" Erik Larson, in his book, "In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin" does a good job of describing the politics and the mood beginning in 1933, when William E. Dodd brought his wife, and two grown children, Martha and Bill, Jr. to Germany with him to begin his ambassadorship in Germany. The book centers mostly around Dodd and his daughter Martha who was 22 at the time and was married, but separated from her husband.

Dodd was a history professor prior to receiving the post and was actually not one of Roosevelt's first choices. Many in the State Department weren't supportive of him and he had to defend himself at every turn. The fact that he wasn't rich and refused to live beyond his salary was a source of annoyance for other statesmen. For example, he brought his old Chevrolet and drove that around Berlin, a sign of just how frugal he was. He also had his own opinions and wasn't always in agreement with other members of the government.

At first Dodd and his family was very enthusiastic about the post and about Germany, especially his daughter, Martha who loved the party scene and dating all sorts of different men. In fact, she was one of the last members of the family to change her opinion about the Nazi party and all that it entailed. Dodd saw what was going on, but believed that once in solid control of the country that Hitler would settle to a more moderate way of governing. Of course, that didn't happen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Paget-Puppa on Jan. 5 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was part of our Book Club reading this year. It was recommended by a member after it 'got her through' a hugely difficult week in her life as her son underwent surgery for a cancerous brain tumor. I dreaded reading it - not 'my kind' of story. It was an incredibly wonderful read! Every page pulled me onward! I often regretted that I had to put it down. The story is true, the events are real, the perspective is historical - giving the reader room to view the events through time, limiting 'horror', while not erasing the facts of the events. The story is beautifully crafted and balanced, moving from family issues of American Ambassador Dodd (Berlin), to group gatherings including the Berlin Politico, Dodd's very busy, young daughter who is infatuated with the Nazis, and Nazi 'power movers' - all in the same room in social events. Treachery abounds - even from the State Department at home and in Berlin! Be sure to read the author's sources and acknowledgements at the end - rich indeed! This book re-awakened my interest in history! It is a superb read!
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