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In the Garden of Beasts Audiobook

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

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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

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (4952 )
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  •  
    DebaDeb Houston, TX 12-10-13
    DebaDeb Houston, TX 12-10-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Roosevelt was a buffoon!"
    Would you listen to In the Garden of Beasts again? Why?

    I would definitely listen again if only to make sure I didn't miss anything.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of In the Garden of Beasts?

    Unfortunately my memorable moments in this book were not happy ones. I will never forget how our government turned a blind eye concerning Hitler. Roosevelt indeed was a purely political buffoon.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When people finally admitted William E. Dodd had been correct all along.


    Any additional comments?

    Even though you already know the ending, this book is well worth the listen. It moves fast, and Erik Larson's ability to tell a story is amazing. The narrator, Stephen Hoye has a wonderful voice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James P Carter 05-28-13 Member Since 2017
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    "Hitler reveals himself-well researched and written"

    I read a lot of history and this book is well done. It actually only covers a couple of years but they represent the time that Hitler's true self was becoming known. For those not familiar with the process it is an interesting journey. The book is seen through the experiences of the Amercian Ambassador and his family.
    Each time I read about this time in history I am amazed by our own lack of empathy for the Jewish people at this time. Different time and place.
    A good read, well presented.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R POLLOCK PINES, CA, United States 05-15-13
    R POLLOCK PINES, CA, United States 05-15-13 Member Since 2011
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    "I Remain an Erik Larson Fan!"

    I was lucky to stumble across on of Mr. Larson's books (Devil in the White City). I immediately loved his writing style. I listened to this audible and remained glued to it. I will probably sit down and actually read this book so that I can gain a much more deeper insight to history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ethan 04-17-13
    Ethan 04-17-13
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    "Good experience for my first audiobook"

    Like Larson's "Devil in a White City" I struggled with lack of interest in some of the story lines. I enjoyed the thorough history through "slice of life" perspective of the rise of Hitler (a topic that I had not previously studied in my extensive WWII reading). I did not care for the excessive infighting in the diplomatic core. This was also my first foray into audiobooks and found that listening to portions that i was not fully enjoying was much easier than reading through them... I will definitely be using audiobooks for nonfiction reading again... Particularly because it turns my commute and exercise time into learning time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    msluvsks 03-29-13
    msluvsks 03-29-13
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    "Starts out dull and stays there."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    probably nothing


    Has In the Garden of Beasts turned you off from other books in this genre?

    not at all


    How could the performance have been better?

    performance was dry


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    the historical aspect was interesting enough to get me to stick with it much longer then I wanted.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles DANVILLE, CA, United States 03-25-13
    Charles DANVILLE, CA, United States 03-25-13
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    "What If. . ."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would highly recommend this book to friends - and have - because it shows the possible results of a world that is unwilling to provide leadership, encouragement and support to those who oppose the emergence of a transparently tyrannical and increasingly brutal bigot who is step by step, taking over a country. History has shown time and again that you cannot negotiate with such people and appeasement certainly doesn't work.
    What If - other countries/world leaders had provided support, or even encouragement to those within Germany who opposed Hitler in 1934? What If - Western leadership, which understandably was weary of war, had recognized that the only way to avoid war was to stop this war mongering despot who was relentlessly developing a war machine and a national will to war that could only mean one thing.
    What If - the world today existed after a little known, poorly educated, finatical bigot and minor figure named Adolf Hitler, fell victom to a coup in 1934. . .
    I found myself hoping for this outcome even though the course of this history had already been written.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    My favorite character was of course, Ambassador Dodd, who recognized the developing threat, but was unable to overcome the opposition of the elitist elements withing the foreign policy apparatus sufficient to make a difference.


    What about Stephen Hoye’s performance did you like?

    The performance was a little dry, through no fault of Mr. Hoye, but owing to the narrative nature of the book.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    It's a book that should be widely read. There are lessons to be learned and we should all try to decide how to apply these lessons to more recent developments in Iran, Syria, etc.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elaine Shaker Heights, OH, United States 03-21-13
    Elaine Shaker Heights, OH, United States 03-21-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Something was missing"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    the focus on the love affairs of Ambassador Dodd's daughter, while illuminating some of life in Berlin in the early 1930's, was too much a focus of the book. The writing, and
    the pertormance at times, was pedantic and at times almost trite.
    The subject, the gradual, invidious influence of the Nazi party in the early 30's and the brutality of the SS and the SA were startling against the backdrop of summer trysts in
    the German countryside.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Some focus on the lives of other characters.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Narration seemed stilted.


    Was In the Garden of Beasts worth the listening time?

    Maybe


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elaine Baird 03-12-13
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    "Story behind the story"
    If you could sum up In the Garden of Beasts in three words, what would they be?

    saddening, cautionary, personal


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Martha was my favorite character, probably because I saw more of her than of any of the other characters. She had personality and color. The other characters seemed to be gray.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    No single scene comes to mind.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, I needed relief from the narrative; all at one sitting would have been overwhelming from both an emotional and intellectual point of view.


    Any additional comments?

    No.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Larry G. Memphis, TN 02-12-13
    Larry G. Memphis, TN 02-12-13 Member Since 2012
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    "History repeats itself but few notice"
    Where does In the Garden of Beasts rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I listen to all kinds of books, fiction and nonfiction. Frequently tell my wife that the non-fictions I listen to are crazier than the fiction books. Garden of Beasts is no exception. I knew very little about pre WWII Germany and how the U.S. viewed the Nazi regime before war broke out. I learned a lot of history. I can't say I "enjoyed" the read, but I was sucked into it. I would highly recommend it.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas 01-29-13
    Thomas 01-29-13
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    "Not enough info for a full book....."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I liked the subject matter but the main characters (Dodd and his daughter) were not or should not have been the main focus of this story. I did not feel there was enough info on them to have a novel. It seemed to be forced the way they intermingled within the real main characters (Hitler and the American Government).


    How could the performance have been better?

    The reader was almost monotone and boring.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I did enjoy the 20/20 signs that America and the world ignored that could have stopped Hitler and Germany.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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