Me, myself, and I.
After Devil in the White City, an amazing tour-de-force, I was expecting quite a bit from Erik Larson. And while he doesn't disappoint with In the Garden of Beasts, it also doesn't quite live up to the lofty standards set in his earlier story. Still, it is a story worth exploring, with its building tension and "oh my god...really?" moments. The lasting legacy of this book, for me, is that, despite the number of WWII books I've gone through recently, it inspired me to spend at least a little more time trying to understand how the world plunged back into a world war, so soon after The Great War.
In this book, we spend time with a family that has been thrust, almost unwittingly, into the downward spiral of a totalitarian regime. Through their interviews, memoirs, private diaries, and more, we get to see life in Berlin in the early 1930s as both an incredibly lively and exciting place, and as one teetering on the edge of chaos. The rise of the Third Reich is told here in very personal detail. Through social interactions, political intrigues, and romances between young lovers, we experience the birthing pains of dictatorship, and wonder at its impact on idealistic diplomats and young adults.
I'd go deeper, singling out individual characters for their naivety or blindness, but I think that part of the intrigue of the story is the way these real-life figures try to make sense of what they've walked into. Spend time in Berlin in 1933, and I think you'll find it quite amazing, and depressing.
This was a compelling book and should be read, especially as we go into an election with a candidate that has the same kind of personality as Hitler. I started off listening to it but did not like the reader so I went to reading on my kindle.
Well researched and to no surprise, written quite engagingly, this story provides a great deal of history you probably have not heard before in regards to pre-WWII Germany. But if you are expecting a similar build like in Erik Larson's 'The Devil in the White City' and 'Lusitania', you will find something much different here.
Be aware that it is a slower paced story, without a huge payoff. I would recommend if you are intrigued by early 20th Century history, government, and WWII.
excellent. An amazing piece of History. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a good deal about the experiences of the ambassador's family in Germany in the 1930s. Highly recommended.
I was worried this would be another status quo book on the history of Nazi Germany, but was pleasantly surprised to find a personal story that completely sucked me in. The great writing really humanizes all of the characters and makes the point that they were all human, highlighting their stupidity and arrogance in even mundane things.
This is a rarely, if ever, seen view into the life of people who were first hand witness to the rise of the Third Reich and their struggle to glean meaning from the events of the time. A great read for anyone that's a fan of history.
1933 through 1945 was such a fascinating time, and to see it through the eyes of firsthand witnesses was awesome. If you're a fan of history, World War II, or other similar topics, I would absolutely recommend this book!
The true story of the U.S. ambassador to Germany in the early 1930’s, William Dodd and his promiscuous daughter Martha who bedded various German officials, a Soviet spy and many others as the Dodds witness Hitler’s rise to power and the growing anti-Jewish fervor and repression growing in Germany at a pivotal point in the evolution of the Nazi state. An engrossing read and enjoyable narration. Readers of history are likely more familiar with the period of Nazi Germany after Hitler took control and started World War II, but this book puts all those events in context as we read about a time when Germans were just starting to fall into order behind Hitler's growing racism and power hungry ambitions. In my view the best (so far) of Erik Larson's histories.
Erik Larson has again written about a fascinating time in history of the story of the Roosevelt appointed Ambassador to Germany during the rise of Hitler. Larson describes in great detail the lives of the Dodd family as they watch Germany change on a daily basis. After having listened to the entire book I often return to listen again to certain parts of the book to again understand the very subtle ways a wonderful people under certain circumstances can be blinded by evil, along with many other countries. Ambassador Dobbs was, as Winston Churchill, sounding the alarm of the approaching storm of WWII but no one was listening. I've heard a description of this as "willful blindness". Thank you Mr Larson for another superbly researched and written book. Wow.