Too much attention was paid to a sad figure, Martha Dodd, the oversexed self-centered daughter of the American ambassador to Berlin. Who cares! So many times my husband and I just wanted to shake that girl as we listened to her ridiculous escapades.
The pace was odd. The author takes a year like 1934 and just relates every last detail in the lives of all the characters, but then the author himself seems to have grown weary of his subjects (as certainly the readers have) and skips quickly through the following years. The author always makes ominous hints of terrible things to come, much like the nightly TV news promos, but the things he's hinting at don't materialize. (Don't get me wrong - unspeakable things happen - just not the things for which the author seems to be setting the listener up.)
Perhaps - some of his work is excellent - just not this book.
Stephen Hoye had a whine to his voice that we found difficult to listen to. His German was impeccable. Perhaps he was trying to show too much sympathy for these flawed and ineffectual characters.
"Beast's" is the utterly fascinating story of an American academic's (and his family's) gradual recognition of the horror that was the Third Reich and, sadly, the State Department's (and much of America's) failure (or unwillingness) to do so until it was almost too late. The book traces the appointment and experiences of William Dodd, a Chicago professor of history who was the third string choice of Franklin Roosevelt to be America's ambassador to Nazi Germany in the years just prior to WWII. Written from Dodd's perspective (and that of his family), the many detailed account of his interactions with Nazi officials and other German figures in society, media, and the arts, the book reads like more like a novel than a history tome. The book is obviously heavily researched, yet doesn't come off as pedantic in any sense. Beast’s gives the reader a sense of the time one doesn’t get from more academic histories. I personally think this is an important book that should be read by anybody who has only read academic histories of the period.
Upper third of all that I have listened to.
Excellent footnoting of of what is verbatim and what is implied.
The night of the elimination of the old SA and rise of the SS.
It takes more than one work to build a good picture and this book is good background to many other works.
No. There are too many other books I want to listen to or read.
About a period in history that interests me.
Married mother of three teenagers, back to work after 15 years at home - when I read a lot. Now I am the assistant to the Mayor of Omaha and work at least 60 hours a week, and on top of what I have to do at home - no more books. This lets me listen to the classics, the latest, whatever I want. I can learn or escape. I have always love audio books, but now I NEED them.
I love WWII novels, especially about Germany and how the world let Nazism sneak up on them until it could only be defeated by all out war. This was a great example of this time period, but was from the first person experiences of real people in the heart of Berlin in the 1930's. You see an American family, unaccustomed to diplomatic circles, thrown into a situation where diplomacy was often irrelevant anyway. There were heroes, villans, and flawed humans on every side, living their lives in what turned out to be a remarkable era in a remarkable place. The day-to-day activities and opinions that they recorded for posterity turned out to be a glimse into an era of history that still facinates us today, and likely will for generations to come.
I didn't realize this was non-fiction until I started listening. The cover of the book seemed like a typical WWII novel scene. At the beginning there was a brief sentence about the fact that this was not just a novel BASED on real people, but an actual non-fiction book. I was dubious, because non-fiction can be dry, especially about ambassadors and diplomacy. This is no boring history book, however, I swallowed it in just a couple of days. Erik Larson is a gifted storyteller.
You will cringe as some of it, want to cry at other times, and I promise you, I laughed out loud more than once. Few novels have characters this complete, and these diplomatic types seem to have written down almost everything that they thought, said, or believed.
For real people, they were very interesting.
If you like European history, war history, WWII history - and especially if you like your stories to be true, this is one you will love.
The book provides what was going on in Hitler's world prior to what the rest of the world was aware of or willing to address. Very compelling.
There are no favorite scenes. This was a brutal time in history. The book provides insights that other sources don't.
Hitler: Who Knew What!
The point of view is one which we haven't had before. It's that of the ambassador to Berlin during the 30s. We see what was going on in Germany at the time and the diplomatic reactions. Intertwined with the historical aspects is the ambassador's family.
love horror, true crime, and biographies
Loved it! Excellent!
Love his voice, excellent job
If I could, I would listen to it all in one sitting
An up-close look at how Hitler came to power from the perspective of the U.S. ambassador to Germany and his attractive and somewhat promiscuous daughter. Very entertaining and "readable."
A school administrator and avid reader and listener of books. At least an hour of every day is spent in the car, and that's where the bulk of my listening is done. I tend to listen to books on "faster" mode so I can get through more books!
I really enjoyed Larson's "Devil in the White City," so I was looking forward to this book about the American Ambassador to Germany during Hitler's rise to power. Sadly, I did not enjoy this book as much as the previous one. Describing the Dodd family, their life prior to going to Germany and their experiences in Germany was an effective tool to help this post-boomer adult to better understand Hitler's rise to power and how his anti-Jew actions were often explained away at the time, even though we look back at them now in horror.
At times I found the story telling disjointed and difficult to follow. There was such a large cast of characters that keeping them straight was difficult.
This book is good, not great, and I will still be interested in seeing what Larson writes next.
This history of one of the pivotal times of the world is told through the eyes of a single family. While it is skillfully crafted, I found it to be shallow and of little use.