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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

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  •  
    Gerry Dupuis 01-25-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Disturbing and insiteful"
    What did you love best about In the Garden of Beasts?

    The book really did a great job of making you feel like you were actually there. You could see the streets and feel the tension. It was intoxicating, political and creepy all at the same time.


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

    I really enjoyed how the author made you understand the characters and understand why they made their discussions. It is critical in a book like this to understand the why.


    Have you listened to any of Stephen Hoye’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This is my first Stephen Hoye performance, but I doubt my last.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This book showed the Nazis in the early years and even then they made my skin crawl.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arthur North Kitsap County, Washington, USA 01-23-13
    Arthur North Kitsap County, Washington, USA 01-23-13 Member Since 2016
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    "Some pretty scary stuff"

    What I found most scary was that ambassador Dodd, his daughter, and the rest of his family seemed to ignore what was going on in Germany rather than being surprised by it. This book shows just how quickly a country can be taken over from within.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan Sunrise, FL, United States 01-09-13
    Alan Sunrise, FL, United States 01-09-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Imagine going back in time to 1933 ......."

    That is exactly what happens to the reader in In The Garden Of Beasts. You start listening to this book and all of a sudden you are teleported back to 1933 Berlin where Hitler and the Nazis have just taken power. Unlike William L. Shirer's book Rise and Fall Of the Third Reich,
    this book has a more personal perspective of life in early nazi Germany. This story revolves around two central characters, William Dodd, a middle of the road liberal who gets appointed ambassador to Germany, and his out of control fun loving daughter Martha.

    This book is well written and presented and should be a welcome addition to your collection.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. Hannah Urbana, IL USA 01-02-13
    P. Hannah Urbana, IL USA 01-02-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Fascinating and terrifying story"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This is a very important part of history. The storytelling is captivating. The author weaves a web of insanity that makes the book hard to turn away from.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    farmhouselady 12-28-12 Member Since 2015
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    "Rating depends on personal perspective."
    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    Speaking as one who has a special interest in the whole Hitler phenom, and has read all I could get my hands on regarding this, for at least a decade, this book was a slight disappointment because it did not offer me anything at all new. The main idea of the book was supposedly one family's experiences living in Berlin during the Nazi's brutal rise to power, with all the terror that implies. But in fact, this was a US ambassador, his wife and two grown children. They were obligated to maintain certain social interactions with German government personnel, which came to include Hitler's people, and beyond that, the daughter did venture off on her own and form relationships with people she encountered in line with her father's status.

    But at no time did this family actually experience anything like what the German citizens, not to mention those who were Jewish, did. In fact, the diplomat and his family members spent most of their couple years' stay there in near-total denial that Hitler would have done such things as they were witnessing with their own eyes. That part felt vaguely troubling to me, but not due to any inferior writing but rather because it reflected badly on the supposed American values that US citizens were supposedly living by, at home. It revealed a shallowness.

    To step one bit further into this shallowness idea, it appears that the main reason for the ambassador to be there in the first place was to try to see to it that Germany paid the very substantial sums that were then owing to American businesses, that were at risk what with the turmoil going on in Germany. Even after some atrocities against the Jews came to light, the ambassador's main concern regarded that money. What the German government did to their own citizens was more or less an internal matter, even after the atrocities were known.

    The 20 year old daughter Martha did indulge in a very free lifestyle including obvious affairs, some even with Nazi officials. She did not leave with a good reputation. But I see her as just an upper-class, spoiled American who was doing what probably many of the younger generation might do, given a chance to try out a privileged lifestyle in another country..... The world is not nearly so judgmental today as in the 1930's.

    So, while the book did offer glimpses into both the changes taking place in Germany, and smaller ones into perhaps world reaction, including in the US, and it also provided quite detailed descriptions of the daughter's activities, and less so of the ambassador's, overall to me it read like tiny tastes of various items that would have held so much promise, had they been developed more completely. Since I was already versed in the subject, I did not feel too cheated, but I definitely would have, had I approached the book with a strong interest but without pre-acquired knowledge of the subject.

    The narrator is one of my favorites, Even with a lot of German and a bit of Russian thrown in, he did a wonderful job. I could listen to no one but him and be happy.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pete Dallas 12-10-12
    Pete Dallas 12-10-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Larson's best work"
    Any additional comments?

    In the Garden of the Beasts was the most interesting and entertaining out of the 3 Larson books I have read, which include Devil in the White City & Thunderstruck. This book kept you moving from story line to story line with less lulls than the other books by Larson. The story itself and the writing are his most compelling, this will be hard to top.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ROSEBUD san francisco 11-30-12
    ROSEBUD san francisco 11-30-12 Member Since 2011
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    "TIGHTLY WRITTEN TALE"
    Would you consider the audio edition of In the Garden of Beasts to be better than the print version?

    n/a


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS


    Any additional comments?

    This is a well researched, tightly written story of the horror.
    As the saying goes, "you can't make this s... up" and Larson and Hoyle do a superb job giving this Frankenstein life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brandy 11-20-12
    Brandy 11-20-12 Member Since 2016
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    "An Uneasy Service"

    I found this book much more surprising revealing than I had anticipated. I was ready to dislike Ambassador Dod and his daughter from page 1, but was surprised by how, despite their many failings, this look inside their lives in Germany during 1938 - 1939 provided a totally different perspective. As their naivete diminished I gained an appreciation for how difficult it must have been for the Ambassador and how daunting a task he had to face.
    The book is well written and entertaining while informative of the horrible events of that era. The narrator did a good job. I highly recommend it in every aspect.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judy Engelman Scottsdale, Arizona United States 11-15-12
    Judy Engelman Scottsdale, Arizona United States 11-15-12 Member Since 2017
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    "A gem of perspecitive on a horrifying time"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This is a fascinating and well documented history of the US ambassadors' and his family's evolving view of pre World War II Germany. To watch Ambassador Dodd move from his obvious initial limitations to being taken seriously as a player in the foreign service to being a soothsayer about subsequent events was worth the listen. Added to that was the jouney of his rebellious adventurous daughter Martha from being a vapid socialite to a woman of some substance. All of this on the backdrop of Nazi Germany while "the emperor fiddled and Rome burned".


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Martha fascinated me. She lead with her heart and other not to mentioned parts of the anatomy. Yet in doing so, she revealed to us many truths about the inner workings of the Nazis, SS and Russians during this important time in history.


    Have you listened to any of Stephen Hoye’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    A Grand Culture ruined by a small minded yet grandiose megalamaniac.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Howlett 11-14-12
    J. Howlett 11-14-12 Member Since 2014
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    "A different view of a story we think we know"
    What did you love best about In the Garden of Beasts?

    the details of their lives in Berlin in the 30's


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

    Memorably sad, when the ambassador is removed for his principled public stand against the Nazi excesses.


    What aspect of Stephen Hoye’s performance would you have changed?

    His intonation can be singsong at times. His voicing of the quotations is very good, but the singsong detracts somewhat from the narration ("singsong" may be the wrong word but that is the best I can come up with to describe the intonation of his sentences)


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    See Nazi Berlin through the eyes of an American girl


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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