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)
Upper third of all that I have listened to.
Excellent footnoting of of what is verbatim and what is implied.
The night of the elimination of the old SA and rise of the SS.
It takes more than one work to build a good picture and this book is good background to many other works.
No. There are too many other books I want to listen to or read.
About a period in history that interests me.
Married mother of three teenagers, back to work after 15 years at home - when I read a lot. Now I am the assistant to the Mayor of Omaha and work at least 60 hours a week, and on top of what I have to do at home - no more books. This lets me listen to the classics, the latest, whatever I want. I can learn or escape. I have always love audio books, but now I NEED them.
I love WWII novels, especially about Germany and how the world let Nazism sneak up on them until it could only be defeated by all out war. This was a great example of this time period, but was from the first person experiences of real people in the heart of Berlin in the 1930's. You see an American family, unaccustomed to diplomatic circles, thrown into a situation where diplomacy was often irrelevant anyway. There were heroes, villans, and flawed humans on every side, living their lives in what turned out to be a remarkable era in a remarkable place. The day-to-day activities and opinions that they recorded for posterity turned out to be a glimse into an era of history that still facinates us today, and likely will for generations to come.
I didn't realize this was non-fiction until I started listening. The cover of the book seemed like a typical WWII novel scene. At the beginning there was a brief sentence about the fact that this was not just a novel BASED on real people, but an actual non-fiction book. I was dubious, because non-fiction can be dry, especially about ambassadors and diplomacy. This is no boring history book, however, I swallowed it in just a couple of days. Erik Larson is a gifted storyteller.
You will cringe as some of it, want to cry at other times, and I promise you, I laughed out loud more than once. Few novels have characters this complete, and these diplomatic types seem to have written down almost everything that they thought, said, or believed.
For real people, they were very interesting.
If you like European history, war history, WWII history - and especially if you like your stories to be true, this is one you will love.
The book provides what was going on in Hitler's world prior to what the rest of the world was aware of or willing to address. Very compelling.
There are no favorite scenes. This was a brutal time in history. The book provides insights that other sources don't.
Hitler: Who Knew What!
The point of view is one which we haven't had before. It's that of the ambassador to Berlin during the 30s. We see what was going on in Germany at the time and the diplomatic reactions. Intertwined with the historical aspects is the ambassador's family.
love horror, true crime, and biographies
Loved it! Excellent!
Love his voice, excellent job
If I could, I would listen to it all in one sitting
An up-close look at how Hitler came to power from the perspective of the U.S. ambassador to Germany and his attractive and somewhat promiscuous daughter. Very entertaining and "readable."
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.
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