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.
I learned a great deal especially since i never knew about dodd. it was eye opening to read about the politics of the time and how it affected our pre war attitudes and responses and actions. a sad insight into america and it views when we should have been doing more.
Unusual and facinating account of Americans in Germany at one of the most horrifying times in modern history, the 1930's. The events that we have read about were brought to life for me as no other book has done. The back story of all the events surrounding the war, the diplomatic wrangling, the hardships of the German people, the absurdity and the tragedy of the Nazi propaganda is well told here.
It is a lesson in American history as well and we don't look so good in hindsight.
I thought that the reader was only fair. His tone was mostly flat and at times he sounded sort of sing songy.
Tell us about yourself!
My experience of this riveting story of the insidious rise of Nazi power, was made more enjoyable by the fact that the wife of the American Ambassador to Germany, Martha JohnsDodd of Amherst Virginia was a relative of mine. This story is an account of an American family, stationed in Berlin in 1933-34, and their gradual realization of the horror that was unfolding around them.
In The Garden Of Beasts is comparable to William L Shirer's Berlin Diary. Erik Larson's writing style is reminiscent of both Shirer and of Christopher Isherwood in his own Berlin Diaries.
This book is well researched and historically accurate; but instead of being a dry recitation of places and dates, the author artfully weaves the personalities of the various characters against the backdrop of an enlightened Berlin rapidly falling into bottomless darkness. William Dodd Sr. was my favorite character. His transformation from a bookish professor, fondly remembering the Germany of his collage days, to the realist, but ineffectual, diplomat gradually opening his eyes to the abyss that is Nazi Germany in 1934.
Prelude to the Holocaust.
This book is chilling, particularly in the light of the current right wing voices in our country.
and petty gossip of correspondents and diplomats, then this book may appeal to you. It never really want anywhere and I never felt like I was transported to pre-WW2 Germany. It is a snapshot in time but a rather washed out snapshot, I was hoping for vibrant kodochrome.
As with many others, I assume, I purchased this based upon his previous work, Devil in the White City. Unfortunately, this did not live up to expectations. I'd simply say that the topic was not as worthy of the effort. I appreciated hearing of the challenges of Ambassador Dodd and his daughter, but there was very little intrigue or plot development. A challenging post during a challenging time, but I was left a little blah by the book.
mostly nonfiction listener
Erik Larson is back in fine form. If you loved his 2004 The Devil in the White City, but were disappointed in Thunderstruck (2007) - (or maybe you loved it as well - either way), you will be excited to invest some of your summer with In the Garden of Beasts. Summer is actually the perfect time for a Larson book. We want to escape into fiction, but want to keep feeding our brains with nonfiction. Larson's nonfiction reads like fiction - perfect.
The story of how the Nazis consolidated power in 1930s Berlin, as seen through the eyes of a mismatched and far too academic ambassador and his irresponsible, flighty and gorgeous 20-something daughter, is as engrossing as it is depressing. So many missed opportunities for the U.S. Department of State to stand up to Hitler and his psychotic and pathological circle of thugs. So little understanding in the 1930s of where Hitler and the Nazis were taking the world.
In telling the story of the Nazis from the viewpoint of the U.S. ambassador (a 60-something U. of Chicago history professor who ended up with the post largely because nobody else wanted the job), Larson seems to have uncovered every letter, diplomatic cable, and official report produced by the U.S. Embassy in Berlin in the 1930s.
Throughout Garden of Beasts, Larson seeks to provide a ground-level answer to the question, "how did the world allow this happen?". Exhausted by the Depression, single-mindedly focussed on getting Germany to pay off the loans owed to American creditors, institutionally anti-Semitic, and unprepared to see evil with clear eyes, the U.S. diplomatic core and Department of State miscalculated and mis-estimated what the Nazis were about at every stage. As Ambassador Dodd and his daughter began to see the truth about the
Nazis over the 4 years spent in Berlin (starting in 1933), the American diplomatic elite (the wealthy men whom Larson refers to as the "pretty good club"), persisted in believing in appeasement and benign engagement. Donald Rumsfeld's mismanagement of the Iraq invasion and war seems like small potatoes next to the failures of our 1930's diplomats and senior government officials.
I had already read the book before I listened to the audio version. I found the audio version much more frightening. It places you in the scenes from that time and place. Sometimes it was too realistic.
Yes, I couldn't stop listening to this book.
The events that were taking place in 1930's Germany are so frighteningly like what is happening today. The stark realities portrayed in this book make me frightened for our world toady.