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)
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.
This is a very well written and intensely researched book. I enjoyed the first part very much. However, where is the rest? By 3/4 through the story, I was thinking I needed to add the rest of the files to my iPod. Nope. That was it. It just ended! After the "climax", the author just summarized the rest, and ended it. I was expecting so much more.
As other reviewers noted, Dodd experienced much more than what was told in this story. After explaining in so much detail about the first 1-2 years of Martha and her father's time there, the second half was explained very quickly and in my opinion rushed. Was there no material to pull information from? If that was the case, then so be it, but I do not think that was the case. Some things just needed to be explained more.
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.
A sad tale of Washington prejudice and blindness. A wonderful example of "don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up." The smug superciliousness of the State Dept. was infuriating. The recounting of events in Hitler's takeover was grim. The slow dimunition of the ambassador, sad. Reads like a novel,,sometimes too much so, but on the whole a, good book.
What a fantastic book this ended up being! To step inside the world of the ambassador and his family and view the rise of Nazi power from their vantage point. The author makes it very clear that this is not meant to be a complete history of the 3rd Reich but rather a small snapshot of some events that were witnessed. I found it riveting. The narrator Stephen Hoye was one of the best I have heard so far. PERFECT for this sort of book.
get this wonderful book in print. Stephen Hoye reads every sentence, every paragraph, every page in the same tone of voice with an identical, monotonous rhythm. Doesn't matter if he's reading about a Nazi atrocity or a beautiful day in the country...same inflection.
I felt there was not much 'meat' to the story. An indulgent, spoiled and headstrong young woman and a mother and father who seem to stick their heads in the sand at every opportunity. The biggest revelation for me in this book was how some things going on early in the Nazi regime remind me of American politics today. The blatant actions and words of the Nazis early on were pooh-poohed by observers and denied after the fact by the German leaders who successfully whipped up a frenzied loyalty in many of their countrymen. Those Germans who didn't agree were afraid to speak up in fear of their life. No where near as good as Devil in the White City.
I wish I had not wasted my credit on this book. This man could have been reading the newspaper. There is history but no story.
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