saddening, cautionary, personal
Martha was my favorite character, probably because I saw more of her than of any of the other characters. She had personality and color. The other characters seemed to be gray.
No single scene comes to mind.
No, I needed relief from the narrative; all at one sitting would have been overwhelming from both an emotional and intellectual point of view.
I listen to all kinds of books, fiction and nonfiction. Frequently tell my wife that the non-fictions I listen to are crazier than the fiction books. Garden of Beasts is no exception. I knew very little about pre WWII Germany and how the U.S. viewed the Nazi regime before war broke out. I learned a lot of history. I can't say I "enjoyed" the read, but I was sucked into it. I would highly recommend it.
I liked the subject matter but the main characters (Dodd and his daughter) were not or should not have been the main focus of this story. I did not feel there was enough info on them to have a novel. It seemed to be forced the way they intermingled within the real main characters (Hitler and the American Government).
The reader was almost monotone and boring.
I did enjoy the 20/20 signs that America and the world ignored that could have stopped Hitler and Germany.
The book really did a great job of making you feel like you were actually there. You could see the streets and feel the tension. It was intoxicating, political and creepy all at the same time.
I really enjoyed how the author made you understand the characters and understand why they made their discussions. It is critical in a book like this to understand the why.
This is my first Stephen Hoye performance, but I doubt my last.
This book showed the Nazis in the early years and even then they made my skin crawl.
What I found most scary was that ambassador Dodd, his daughter, and the rest of his family seemed to ignore what was going on in Germany rather than being surprised by it. This book shows just how quickly a country can be taken over from within.
That is exactly what happens to the reader in In The Garden Of Beasts. You start listening to this book and all of a sudden you are teleported back to 1933 Berlin where Hitler and the Nazis have just taken power. Unlike William L. Shirer's book Rise and Fall Of the Third Reich,
this book has a more personal perspective of life in early nazi Germany. This story revolves around two central characters, William Dodd, a middle of the road liberal who gets appointed ambassador to Germany, and his out of control fun loving daughter Martha.
This book is well written and presented and should be a welcome addition to your collection.
This is a very important part of history. The storytelling is captivating. The author weaves a web of insanity that makes the book hard to turn away from.
Speaking as one who has a special interest in the whole Hitler phenom, and has read all I could get my hands on regarding this, for at least a decade, this book was a slight disappointment because it did not offer me anything at all new. The main idea of the book was supposedly one family's experiences living in Berlin during the Nazi's brutal rise to power, with all the terror that implies. But in fact, this was a US ambassador, his wife and two grown children. They were obligated to maintain certain social interactions with German government personnel, which came to include Hitler's people, and beyond that, the daughter did venture off on her own and form relationships with people she encountered in line with her father's status.
But at no time did this family actually experience anything like what the German citizens, not to mention those who were Jewish, did. In fact, the diplomat and his family members spent most of their couple years' stay there in near-total denial that Hitler would have done such things as they were witnessing with their own eyes. That part felt vaguely troubling to me, but not due to any inferior writing but rather because it reflected badly on the supposed American values that US citizens were supposedly living by, at home. It revealed a shallowness.
To step one bit further into this shallowness idea, it appears that the main reason for the ambassador to be there in the first place was to try to see to it that Germany paid the very substantial sums that were then owing to American businesses, that were at risk what with the turmoil going on in Germany. Even after some atrocities against the Jews came to light, the ambassador's main concern regarded that money. What the German government did to their own citizens was more or less an internal matter, even after the atrocities were known.
The 20 year old daughter Martha did indulge in a very free lifestyle including obvious affairs, some even with Nazi officials. She did not leave with a good reputation. But I see her as just an upper-class, spoiled American who was doing what probably many of the younger generation might do, given a chance to try out a privileged lifestyle in another country..... The world is not nearly so judgmental today as in the 1930's.
So, while the book did offer glimpses into both the changes taking place in Germany, and smaller ones into perhaps world reaction, including in the US, and it also provided quite detailed descriptions of the daughter's activities, and less so of the ambassador's, overall to me it read like tiny tastes of various items that would have held so much promise, had they been developed more completely. Since I was already versed in the subject, I did not feel too cheated, but I definitely would have, had I approached the book with a strong interest but without pre-acquired knowledge of the subject.
The narrator is one of my favorites, Even with a lot of German and a bit of Russian thrown in, he did a wonderful job. I could listen to no one but him and be happy.
In the Garden of the Beasts was the most interesting and entertaining out of the 3 Larson books I have read, which include Devil in the White City & Thunderstruck. This book kept you moving from story line to story line with less lulls than the other books by Larson. The story itself and the writing are his most compelling, this will be hard to top.
IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS
This is a well researched, tightly written story of the horror.
As the saying goes, "you can't make this s... up" and Larson and Hoyle do a superb job giving this Frankenstein life.