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Larson's In the Garden of Beasts is excellent. He unpacks one of the most fascinating and studied moments in history and reveals the hard truth of hindsight. It's 20/20.
Sitting comfortably in 2013, we can pat ourselves on the back and say we would have done everything in our power to stop Hitler's rise. Indignantly, we will stomp our feet and judge the men and women who sat "idly by" and did nothing as Hitler and his thugs seized control of Germany and pulled the world into chaos.
But then Larson puts us in the moment - Berlin - the epicenter of it all. And without benefit of a crystal ball, we are left with the uncomfortable question: Would we truly have seen the danger signs? If so, would we have had the courage to act?
Perhaps those close enough to actually make a difference, were so far inside the belly of the beast, they could not see the teeth.
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 my first Erik Larson book, and I was not disappointed!
The story follows the U.S. Ambassador to Berlin in the years leading up to Hitler's reign of terror.
It is a uniquely American take on the rise of Naziism, which explores the profound difficulty of convincing the U.S. to see Hitler for who he truly was - dangerous and wicked.
It also presents a nuanced account of the German people during the rise of Hitler. Many dissidents were courageous, but were murdered in cold blood for speaking out against Hitler's persecution of the Jews or his senseless slaughter of the German people.
We must remember that in countries under totalitarian regimes there are always those that speak out and are killed for their bravery. I honor those that died in bravery by trying to stand up against tyranny and I know they would be glad to see the Germany of today.
When anyone speculates how ordinary Germans allowed the atrocities of the Nazi regime, refer them to this review of the mid 1930s. I find the manipulations of Hitler amidl and his cronies to be frighteningly similar to the rise of Donald Trump. I hope enough of us see this and find ways to resist his reign to prevent the United States from being yet another horrid slice of history for future generations.
I enjoyed the book, however, was much more interested in more of the history being revealed more so than the daughter's love affair. Unfortunately it seemed the love affairs was the main focus.
Big Larson fan. Think the writing here and story is very compelling. The reading is passionless.
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.