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In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin | [Erik Larson]

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin

The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history. A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another....
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Publisher's Summary

Erik Larson has been widely acclaimed as a master of narrative non-fiction, and in his new book, the best-selling author of Devil in the White City turns his hand to a remarkable story set during Hitler’s rise to power.

The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.

A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first, Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany”, she has one affair after another, including with the suprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate.

As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance - and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition.

Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the expectedly charming - yet wholly sinister - Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively listenable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.

©2011 Stephen Hoye (P)2011 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"In this mesmerizing portrait of the Nazi capital, Larson plumbs a far more diabolical urban cauldron than in his bestselling The Devil in the White City... a vivid, atmospheric panorama of the Third Reich and its leaders, including murderous Nazi factional infighting, through the accretion of small crimes and petty thuggery." (Publishers Weekly)

"By far his best and most enthralling work of novelistic history….Powerful, poignant…a transportingly true story." (The New York Times)

"[L]ike slipping slowly into a nightmare, with logic perverted and morality upended….It all makes for a powerful, unsettling immediacy." (Bruce Handy, Vanity Fair)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Peter ASHEVILLE, NC, United States 04-19-12
    Peter ASHEVILLE, NC, United States 04-19-12 Member Since 2006
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    "An aside in history."

    Although interesting, this book is rather boring. Also the reading is dreary and unimaginative. No effort was made to bring the players alive.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan United States 01-04-12
    Dan United States 01-04-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Good for a big history buff..."
    What disappointed you about In the Garden of Beasts?

    I like history and was interested in the pre-WWII period but this book doesn't really have a pinnacle or give any mind blowing information.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. St Gallen, Switzerland 12-19-11
    K. St Gallen, Switzerland 12-19-11 Member Since 2006
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    "An interesting insight, but not for everyone..."

    I'm a "Hilter Germany" junkie so I had to listen to this one, but if I had been reading it, I don't think I would have finished it. Although really interesting in some places, I would not call it "gripping". At times it reminded me of the line from Amadeus, when Emporer Joseph said to Mozart..."too many notes."
    I had the same problem with The Devil in the White City, (which I couldn't finish), so I guess I'm just not a big Erik Larson fan, if you are, please disregard my comments.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JV CA 12-12-11
    JV CA 12-12-11 Member Since 2010
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    1
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    19
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    "Another well written book"

    A thoughtful insight into the political chaos of the embassy before and dring the war.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill Belmont, MI, United States 11-22-11
    Bill Belmont, MI, United States 11-22-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Worst book yet from Audible"

    I bought this book based on a favorable review, but after listening to it, I now wonder if I can give any credibility at all to the book reviews here at Audible. This book was so boring I could hardly stand it. I kept hoping there was a plot or at least one interesting chapter. The narrator was equally bad and made the overall delivery of the content purely miserable.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra Arlington, VA, United States 11-09-11
    Sandra Arlington, VA, United States 11-09-11 Member Since 2005
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    "Perspective is everything"

    From our vantage point looking back 70+ years, its easy to see from this book how the churn of the Nazi party moved on relentlessly. Obvious situations were dismissed when interventions could have changed the course of history. This work of non-fiction mercilessly shows the reader all the "what if's" that could have prevented, or maybe just forestalled another world war. It reveals the state department of that day as the run by dilettantes who were more interested in status than diplomacy. But it is non-fiction, and can be a tedious listen. I'm glad I hung in there. I will be connecting it to Ken Follett's new saga, Fall of Giants.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Knight Oakland, CA, United States 09-02-11
    Knight Oakland, CA, United States 09-02-11 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Better the Real Devil"

    This was a much better book than Devil in the White City, because it provided a picture of life, real-time, in early Nazi Germany. Very hard to imagine it, without being overwhelmed by hindsight. Like White City, the book cannot carry its great set-up to the end, but the early parts, as the family discover what is actually happening in front of them, is very persuasive. And much more relevant than a fascinating account of the Chicago world's fair and an ancient 19th century crime.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fay Seattle, WA, United States 08-11-11
    Fay Seattle, WA, United States 08-11-11 Member Since 2008

    I mostly listen to books while exercising, which pretty much explains all of the action/thrillers on my list.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "History is scarey"

    Erik Larson is a wonderful story teller. This practically reads like a novel, but it is real and his sources are fascinating. And of course the setting is guaranteed to make the hair rise on the back of your neck. You just keep thinking "why didn't someone stop this?" But they didn't.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cindy Lometa, TX, United States 08-02-11
    Cindy Lometa, TX, United States 08-02-11 Member Since 2010
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    "slow"

    I found it very slow to produce any information of interest. The details were drawn out in FAR too much detail. I found it hard to follow because I couldn't stay "tuned in" because of the attention to detail. Sorry, never got around to finishing the audio book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Bettendorf, IA, United States 07-14-11
    Robert Bettendorf, IA, United States 07-14-11 Member Since 2004
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    "Nazi Trivialities"

    The Beatles sang: "Come on, if you please, I got no time for trivialities." If you've got no time for trivialities, I strongly suggest you skip this banal, uninspiring account of a third-rate ambassador and his slutty daughter in 1930s Berlin. Erik Larson can be praised for Devil in the White City, and Stephen Hoye somehow managed to sound engaged in this documentation of dinner parties and other unimportant events. By the end of the book (after the part about happy horses, the byproduct of which would be happy horse-hockey, I guess), it begins to dawn on the main characters that Hitler is somewhat of a homicidal monster, but most of the book makes these folks look naive in the extreme. Perhaps you can forgive them because, after all, they didn't much like the Jews anyway. My rating was 2 stars because 1 1/2 wasn't an option.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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