Everyone in my book group was excited for this one, because the subject seemed so interesting. The problem is, in spite of how much was going on in the world at this time, NOTHING happens in the book. The people the author chooses to focus on are ultimately inconsequential and do nothing of consequence. So to try to make up for his protagonists' lack of importance, he includes vast amounts of detail and dozens of characters, few of whom end up being relevant or even particularly interesting. The book could have been half as long if the author had just focused on things that were actually important, instead of providing detailed descriptions of the weather, or a complete listing of every item in the ambassador's china cabinet (particularly grueling in an audiobook, where you can't skim).
Also irritating is the author's tendency to try to create suspense by ending every chapter with a portentous cliff-hanger-y tease: "Had they known at the time what was to come, they might have felt differently about it..." You can almost here the corny "Dunh dunh DUUNNNNNHH" sound cue. Really amateurish.
I really enjoyed this book. It was such an interesting glimpse of life in the Nazi era and how things got so bad without any intervention. And no matter what you think of the story, Erik Larson does an incredible amount of research, and it certainly shows. I was sad when the story ended, because I wanted to learn more about what happens afterwards.
The reader did a fine job. The story was comprehensive and told in Larson's style.
The most interesting aspect was the subject matter from a different point of view. The least interesting was that there was not much intrigue, but it was very good historical story.
Clear and dramatic
This book was a good read and informative about Hilter's era. It is a read not to be missed.
I like the presentation style of History. I'm not going to be citing anything from this book for a paper, but it does paint a very understandable view of what went on during this time in history. The only thing that disappointed me was that it was not as gripping as "Devil in the White City." I wanted to have a "jaw dropper" in every chapter, and it just wasn't there. I enjoyed the information, and it left me to think about a lot, but I pushed myself to finish it.
This story of William Dodd, America's unlikely ambassador to Germany at the dawn of Hitler's rise, offers a nearly-cinematic look at the life of the diplomatic and wealthy classes in Berlin in the mid-'30s. Of particular interest is the story of Martha Dodd, the twenty-something daughter, whose tolerant parents and somewhat moneyed upbringing in the American '20s made her a free-spirited romantic and political naif who embraces the European experience. Bright and idiotic, fascinating and frustrating, I can't imagine why someone hasn't made a film about her. But really, the entire story deserves to be told - and Stephen Hoye gives it a grounded yet compelling reading. If you've ever wondered how Hitler managed to fool the German people long enough to gain absolute power, this book is a revelation. It is particularly interesting and chilling to note just how the privileged classes on both sides of the Atlantic engaged in delusional thinking for as long as possible.
Yes, I enjoyed it & learned alot.
correct pronounciation of all those German names and terms
This book contains information I had heard no where else - - - very informative.
this is a very interesting piece of history, reconstructed in a sort of novel form. as such, it suffers from the constraints of adhering to facts, but it provides a "witness"insight into a critical period of contemporary history. very interesting. the reader is excellent.
The book is interesting, the reader is clear and makes the story come alive, and this compelling account of the US Ambassador to Germany and his family in the early 1930's makes history easy to absorb. Although the book is about Nazi Germany and how our diplomats dealt with (or didn't deal with) the rise of Hitler, the topics of tolerance, religious freedom, one-party government and abuse of power provide thought-provoking echos in terms of current events.
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.