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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 [Audiobook]

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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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  •  
    Jeffery United States 10-09-12
    Jeffery United States 10-09-12 Member Since 2011
    ratings
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    "Wasn't what I hoped it would be..."
    What did you like best about In the Garden of Beasts? What did you like least?

    I like the presentation style of History. I'm not going to be citing anything from this book for a paper, but it does paint a very understandable view of what went on during this time in history. The only thing that disappointed me was that it was not as gripping as "Devil in the White City." I wanted to have a "jaw dropper" in every chapter, and it just wasn't there. I enjoyed the information, and it left me to think about a lot, but I pushed myself to finish it.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Woodside, CA, United States 10-01-12
    Amazon Customer Woodside, CA, United States 10-01-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Compelling true story of the world at a crossroads"

    This story of William Dodd, America's unlikely ambassador to Germany at the dawn of Hitler's rise, offers a nearly-cinematic look at the life of the diplomatic and wealthy classes in Berlin in the mid-'30s. Of particular interest is the story of Martha Dodd, the twenty-something daughter, whose tolerant parents and somewhat moneyed upbringing in the American '20s made her a free-spirited romantic and political naif who embraces the European experience. Bright and idiotic, fascinating and frustrating, I can't imagine why someone hasn't made a film about her. But really, the entire story deserves to be told - and Stephen Hoye gives it a grounded yet compelling reading. If you've ever wondered how Hitler managed to fool the German people long enough to gain absolute power, this book is a revelation. It is particularly interesting and chilling to note just how the privileged classes on both sides of the Atlantic engaged in delusional thinking for as long as possible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linette Lakewood, CO, United States 09-25-12
    Linette Lakewood, CO, United States 09-25-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Interesting informative read!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I enjoyed it & learned alot.


    What does Stephen Hoye bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    correct pronounciation of all those German names and terms


    Any additional comments?

    This book contains information I had heard no where else - - - very informative.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Giuseppe Barbesino 09-25-12 Member Since 2017
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    "interesting work"

    this is a very interesting piece of history, reconstructed in a sort of novel form. as such, it suffers from the constraints of adhering to facts, but it provides a "witness"insight into a critical period of contemporary history. very interesting. the reader is excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Bruch Durham, NC United States 09-18-12
    Kathy Bruch Durham, NC United States 09-18-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Disappointing"
    What disappointed you about In the Garden of Beasts?

    Too much attention was paid to a sad figure, Martha Dodd, the oversexed self-centered daughter of the American ambassador to Berlin. Who cares! So many times my husband and I just wanted to shake that girl as we listened to her ridiculous escapades.

    The pace was odd. The author takes a year like 1934 and just relates every last detail in the lives of all the characters, but then the author himself seems to have grown weary of his subjects (as certainly the readers have) and skips quickly through the following years. The author always makes ominous hints of terrible things to come, much like the nightly TV news promos, but the things he's hinting at don't materialize. (Don't get me wrong - unspeakable things happen - just not the things for which the author seems to be setting the listener up.)


    Would you ever listen to anything by Erik Larson again?

    Perhaps - some of his work is excellent - just not this book.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Stephen Hoye?

    Stephen Hoye had a whine to his voice that we found difficult to listen to. His German was impeccable. Perhaps he was trying to show too much sympathy for these flawed and ineffectual characters.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas J. Hart Bethesda, MD, US 09-13-12
    Thomas J. Hart Bethesda, MD, US 09-13-12 Member Since 2016
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    "Important History That Reads Like a Novel"

    "Beast's" is the utterly fascinating story of an American academic's (and his family's) gradual recognition of the horror that was the Third Reich and, sadly, the State Department's (and much of America's) failure (or unwillingness) to do so until it was almost too late. The book traces the appointment and experiences of William Dodd, a Chicago professor of history who was the third string choice of Franklin Roosevelt to be America's ambassador to Nazi Germany in the years just prior to WWII. Written from Dodd's perspective (and that of his family), the many detailed account of his interactions with Nazi officials and other German figures in society, media, and the arts, the book reads like more like a novel than a history tome. The book is obviously heavily researched, yet doesn't come off as pedantic in any sense. Beast’s gives the reader a sense of the time one doesn’t get from more academic histories. I personally think this is an important book that should be read by anybody who has only read academic histories of the period.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn 09-12-12
    Lynn 09-12-12

    Morse fanatic

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    "History for the history buff"
    Where does In the Garden of Beasts rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Upper third of all that I have listened to.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Excellent footnoting of of what is verbatim and what is implied.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The night of the elimination of the old SA and rise of the SS.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    It takes more than one work to build a good picture and this book is good background to many other works.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. R. Dreyer Boston & Cape Cod MA USA 09-04-12
    J. R. Dreyer Boston & Cape Cod MA USA 09-04-12
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    "My first listen!"
    Would you listen to In the Garden of Beasts again? Why?

    No. There are too many other books I want to listen to or read.


    What did you like best about this story?

    About a period in history that interests me.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Colby Omaha, NE, United States 08-24-12
    Colby Omaha, NE, United States 08-24-12 Member Since 2016

    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.

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    "Non-Fiction that Listens Like a Novel! Loved It!"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carole United States 08-20-12
    Carole United States 08-20-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Exactly that: love, terror, family~Berlin/Hitler"
    If you could sum up In the Garden of Beasts in three words, what would they be?

    Compelling
    Insightful
    Historically important


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    There are no favorite scenes. This was a brutal time in history. The book provides insights that other sources don't.


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

    Hitler: Who Knew What!


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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