I found this book very, very engrossing. It is not only well-written, but perfectly narrated. You can read dozens of books on WWII, but this one is unique in that it is a tale of an American ambassador in Berlin during Hitler's rise to power. Once I completed the book, I did not feel that it was strong enough of a story to make it a 'great' book, and would not read it again. However, that's all hindsight. From start to finish, I did enjoy it and would recommend it to anyone interested in this era.
Yes, this is the second book that I have read from Erik Larson.
My next listen will be something light since this book was very intense.
Only to hope that people stop turning a blind eye to hatred.
This is an extremely intense book. To hear about the things that this American family, especially the daughter, saw and did while refusing to truly see all that was happening around them while Hitler and his henchmen were rising to power is infuriating.
Whoever chose Stephen Hoye to narrate this book should be fired! It should have been read by someone with excellent German pronunciation.
Martha seems to be the main character.
It is hard to understand why the Department of State refused to believe Ambassador Dodd's evaluation of what was going on in Germany in 1933. Had they done so, World War II might have been avoided.
While listening to this I began to marvel at the herculean effort Larson performed aligning all of the letters, diaries, journals, articles etc. from so many different people. I can't even imagine how he could have organized this enormous body of information. As a result, practically every encounter mentioned has the perspective of the major players, and the concurrent impressions of nearly everyone in the event or meeting. (I am meaning one or two additional people, not 7 or 8.) To hear Dodd's letters and dispatches to the State Department and the reactions of his superiors and peers (well, hardly) is fascinating. It's a fly on every wall approach. Don't forget the reporters involved too. That's a third story line. I think of Dodd as an unsung hero who had principles. The dilettantes, and even Roosevelt, underestimated him and mocked his sincere observations. Trying to live within one's means was admirable and he was regarded as a fool for it. I think we can admire him greatly for trying to do things in a way that he found honorable and ethically correct, without any support from his employers or co-workers. Even other ambassadors were critical of him. Talk about a nasty bad job -- we can look at what he went through and be thankful our lives are much simpler and easy. He didn't even get to write his four volume history of the Old South. More the shame. And just an aside -- the University of Chicago is considered one of the most difficult colleges in the nation. It's status is ABOVE the Ivy League.
Martha was interesting, however she conducted herself foolishly and the extensive affairs gave me pause. Was there something mentally wrong with her? I cannot even find where she went to college on Wikipedia -- she was a spoiled brat who thought she was the center of the universe. I think that the purpose of Boris' constant harping about her having relations with other men was not his lovesick reaction but a calculated way the Soviets could temper her weakness as an agent -- possibly spilling important information to the wrong person. They saw her as lacking discipline. Her life had such pathetically sad last chapters -- whose fault was that? She made choices, and she was indiscreet. Too bad Dodd's wife Mattie didn't keep a detailed journal -- I would have rather heard her impressions than Martha's. All in all an astounding read (listen).
I guess I'm a baby...I just love to be read to.
Erik Larson is the master at making history entertaining. His audiobooks always seem to convey the feeling of the book so masterfully. If you like history combined with storytelling than this is the book for you.
Larson writes very well of parallel stories - in this case the story of how Hitler entrenched his power in Nazi Germany and the story of Martha Dodd, daughter of the American ambassador to Germany and her playgirl behavior. It was a compelling book to listen to, and the time went by quickly.
Watching Hitler's Germany form through the eyes of American's who are not prepared to see what is happening is an enlightening vantage point. A great story with interesting characters well read by Stephen Hoye.
I enjoy reading many books genres. But I love listening to fantasy books.
I have an interest in WWII history. I enjoyed listening to this book. But it was a little slow at times. There is a side story about the Ambassador's daughter which gets tedious at times.
What an interesting story that I had never heard before. I have purchased and read/listened to many WWII books and this one offers a very unique perspective. The only complaint that I had was that the reader was very measured and slow. I was excited when I just got the updated audible software and I was able to listen to it at 1.5x speed. This helped a lot and made the story that much better.