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
"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)
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.
Avid non-fiction audiobook listener as I drive. Love to learn and be entertained at same time. Have read over 300 audio books in four years.
When it comes to non-fiction writers that can combine two interlocking stories, Larson has no peer. I read audio books for two reasons: to learn and to be entertained. I learned so much I did not know about the rise of the Third Reich, and had never heard anything about our diplomats living in Germany at that time. Larson weaves a great story with so much detail and vividness. I can't imagine the time it took to do the research needed to write a book such as this, but I am so glad that he did.
This book touched on the social perversion, horror, injustice, and fear resulting from Hitler's rise to power in 1930s Germany and the seemingly omnipresence threat of his brown-shirted thugs. But, as interesting as that subject is, its treatment in this book was not enough to sustain my interest in the other sub-topic; the vapid existence of the U.S. ambassador's daughter. I would not recommend this book.
This book is riveting from beginning to end. It's an important and interesting look at the rise of the Third Reich.
The author does a beautiful job of engaging the reader and keeping his/her interest. Wonderful.
Nearly 1200 titles.
Turning history into compelling story is what Larson does best, and "In the Garden of Beasts" does not disappoint. Narrator Stephen Hoye does a superb job, as well. Two thumbs up for both.
100% of the books I read are in audible format. I enjoy reading apocalyptic, WWII, psychology, classics, contemporary and non-fiction.
Loved this book -- read it straight through. I have read a lot about Nazi Germany, memoirs and history of holocaust experiences and lives of Germans during that time. This book provided an entirely new perspective for me -- a political one. I’m always surprised when I hear about events beginning in Germany as early as 1933 and how sinister the activities were and to be allowed to continue for so long without interference -- I can now see what contributed to this, though -- so many factors including the US wanting repayment of Germany's debt to US creditors, thereby, staying close to them not wanting to offend and the fact that the American public was so wary of getting involved in the problems of Europe. It was a real eye opener for me and it was actually a story about America's first ambassador to Germany, during the 1930's, William E. Dodd....A real 5 star read.
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