In the Garden of Beasts

In the Garden of Beasts

Love, Terror, and An American Family in Hitler's Berlin

Book - 2011 | 1st ed
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The bestselling 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.
Publisher: New York : Crown, c2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307408846
Branch Call Number: 943.086 D6616L 2011
Characteristics: xiv, 448 p. : ill., map, ports. ; 25 cm


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Book Club – In the Garden of Beasts

Join us at Wheelock Branch to discuss, In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, September 5, 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Bestselling and award winning writer Erik Larson offers his most compelling story with In the Garden of Beasts, an intense account of one professor's experience with the "New Germany" in 1933. Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of… (more)

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LPL_PolliK Jan 07, 2019

Larson writes masterful narrative nonfiction (and a cautionary tale) that takes a deep dive into 1933 Germany, just after Hitler has been named Chancellor. We see the unraveling of a nation firsthand through the eyes of the American Ambassador William E. Dodd in Berlin, and his flamboyant and popular daughter Martha Dodd. Larson chronicles the growing horror as both statesmen and average citizens work hard to excuse and normalize Hitler and Nazi Party behavior, all the while letting democracy die. When enough people finally woke up and spoke up, it was too to reverse course. A riveting and important read.

HCL_staff_reviews Oct 27, 2017

In 1933 Germany elected a new chancellor and a surprising resurgence appeared to occur in the once-decimated superpower nation. For newly-appointed American ambassador to Germany, William E. Dodd, and his family, Berlin is a city of enchantment and reports of brutality towards communists and Jews seem to them exaggerated. But as their stay in Germany continues, the darker truths of the new Germany become impossible to ignore. Larson follows up <i>Devil in the White City</i> with another intimate account of a big historical topic and the personal nature of the narrative illuminates Nazi Germany unlike any other nonfiction book I've encountered. Compelling, readable and fascinating from beginning to end. — Anne P., Washburn Library

mryanhess Oct 13, 2017

If you're looking for an intimate portrait of how real people witnessed the rise of a brutal dictatorship, this book will satisfy...and terrify. I found it especially interesting to watch the characters steadily realize what the Nazi's were leading the world toward...and how few listened to them.

Jul 22, 2017

Fascinating and terrifying book! Felt like the author was reading the book to me -

Jul 04, 2017

Innocents Abroad: Between the Wars. This story of ambassadorial intrigue as the Nazis take power in republican Germany -- in other words, fiddling while Rome burns -- is not as interesting as it should be. The elements are all there, but the author does not have the skills, or call it the killer instinct, to bring the generally well-meaning but confused and complacent U.S. ambassador and his daughter to life. I wonder how the film will turn out; they're going to have to do back flips to portray them as heroic, or even very sympathetic. Maybe they won't, and instead will portray them as they were. Wouldn't that be interesting?

Feb 09, 2017

In the Garden of Beasts is richly described, from the scenery to the characters, in a manner that gives a horrifying immediacy to a crucial turning point in history. From our vantage point in the future, we are forced to see through the eyes of people living in the time, who had no idea of the horrors to come. It is an uncomfortable but revealing perspective.

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Jan 04, 2017

This book was recommend to me by others also wanting to discover how an educated and tolerant society like Germany in the mid 30's was so wholly consumed by the Nazi machine. It goes along with "Hitler's Willing Executioners" as a must read to gather some perspective on how this comes about, and if it could, again.

Dec 01, 2016

One of the scariest books but unmatched for historical fiction...the real history of pre-war Germany and the parallels in the USA of the very recent times (21st century), make one shudder. This should be required reading for all who have attended public school in the last 30 years.

ArapahoeChristineS Oct 16, 2016

This book drops you into the middle of Berlin during the rise of the Nazi party. An intriguing story of outsiders living in the changing and ultimately, terrifying time before the outbreak of a world war. At times the many "characters" were difficult to remember, and sometimes I felt Larson got a little too caught up in details, but this was a great addition to those interested in WWII.

Dec 28, 2015

Erik Larson’s IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS does not quite approach the brilliance of his other works I have read (THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY and DEAD WAKE), yet it is worthy of study given its relevance to today’s world. Evil still exists and it is important to be reminded of and learn from our past failures in order to avoid history repeating itself. The book mainly concerns William E. Dodd, U.S. Ambassador to 1930’s Germany, a rather outwardly bland man who refuses to compromise his principles, and his impetuous daughter, Martha, who is as exuberant as her father is restrained. Together they witness the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party. Larson expertly captures the atmosphere of pre-WWII Berlin, slowly revealing the sinister forces and horrors underlying the seeming serenity of everyday life in the city and country.

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Nov 16, 2017

a fascinating look into life in Berlin when Germany was slowly being drawn into Hitler's web. at that time, everyone was oh so hopeful the extremists could be reasoned with, and that things would not be "that bad". lesson learned.

Feb 09, 2017

In the diplomatic service, Berlin would normally be considered a plum ambassadorial appointment, a great European capital exceeded only by London or Paris. But in the spring of 1933, the recently elected Franklin Roosevelt was having trouble filling the position. The political situation in Germany was turbulent, and Adolf Hitler had just been appointed Chancellor. Meanwhile Roosevelt had more consuming problems closer to home, dealing with the Great Depression. Just before congress closed session in June 1933, Roosevelt appointed William E. Dodd, a historian from the University of Chicago, to the post. At least four previous candidates had declined the position. Dodd, his wife Mattie, and adult children Bill and Martha, decamped for Berlin, becoming first-hand witnesses to the rise of National Socialism during their four year tenure in the German capital.

ajmccreary Jul 01, 2016

Chronicles the tenure of a history professor turned US ambassador to Germany during the early 1930s; the dalliances of his daughter with Jewish literary figures, Nazi power brokers, and Soviet spies; and the reluctance of all -- but especially of those back in Washington -- to fully register the implications of Hitler's rise.

Jun 08, 2013

This book takes place in Germany prior to WW II. Get a glimpse of what was happening in Germany as Hitler rose to power.


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ajmccreary Jul 01, 2016

ajmccreary thinks this title is suitable for All Ages


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Feb 09, 2017

There existed at this time a widespread perception that Hitler’s government could not possibly endure.


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