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READ PDF å In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin à The time is , 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 historyA 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 Enad of the New Germany, she has one affair after another, including with the surprisingly 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 ambitionSuffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Goring 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 readable 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 I loved Erik Larson s The Devil in the White City , I found the subject matter fascinating and the writing fabulous In the Garden of Beasts is the second book I ve read by Larson and I m sorry to say the two don t compare.I ve read a fair number of books about the Holocaust and I did find the political maneuvering described in Garden interesting in a stomach turning, sickening kind of way But the people in this story never came to life for me, with the exception of Martha Dodd who I didn I loved Erik Larson s The Devil in the White City , I found the subject matter fascinating and the writing fabulous In the Garden of Beasts is the second book I ve read by Larson and I m sorry to say the two don t compare.I ve read a fair number of books about the Holocaust and I did find the political maneuvering described in Garden interesting in a stomach turning, sickening kind of way But the people in this story never came to life for me, with the exception of Martha Dodd who I didn t care for.I read an advance reader s copy so perhaps the final product will have some additional editing but what I read wasn t of the same caliber as The Devil in the White City , the pacing was relatively slow and there were places where the story was choppy I could have given this story up at anytime not really caring what happened to these people I didn t feel the horror and the fear that Larson described, overall the story just didn t engage me and I often wondered why Larson chose this family as his subject matter Picture Principal Skinner from The Simpsons and Paris Hilton going to Nazi Germany, and you ll have a pretty good idea of what this book is like.I was split on Erik Larson s The Devil in the White City because I found the half of the book about the 1893 Chicago s World Fair incredibly interesting but thought the other half about serial killer H.H Holmes to be just another true crime gore fest Then in Thunderstruck he again gave us some nice pop history with the story of Marconi and the inventi Picture Principal Skinner from The Simpsons and Paris Hilton going to Nazi Germany, and you ll have a pretty good idea of what this book is like.I was split on Erik Larson s The Devil in the White City because I found the half of the book about the 1893 Chicago s World Fair incredibly interesting but thought the other half about serial killer H.H Holmes to be just another true crime gore fest Then in Thunderstruck he again gave us some nice pop history with the story of Marconi and the invention of the radio, but then he stretched the inclusion of a crime story to a ridiculous exteme by trying to tie in a manhunt for a killer across the Atlantic that used early wireless I was hoping that In the Garden of Beasts would allow Larson to play to his strengths with a story about Nazis in the 1930s because I thought he could give a detailed look at life in Berlin as Hitler was consolidating his power, and this time he d actually have a legitimate horror story to tell without it feeling like something just tacked on to sell books Instead, I got a story about a couple of people who were surrounded by evil and didn t do a helluva lot about it.The story centers on William Dodd and his daughter Martha Dodd was a history professor in Chicago with minor political connections and a dream of obtaining a quiet government post somewhere so he could finish writing a history of the American Civil War When President Roosevelt couldn t get anyone else to take the job, he asked Dodd to be the ambassador to Germany Dodd accepted and took his wife and two grown children along with him Like a lot of Americans, Dodd was worried about some of the stories of Nazi violence coming out at the time, but thought that Hitler might be nudged towards controlling the extreme factions since he d just taken over as chancellor His interactions with the Nazi power brokers and the rise of German nationalistic fervor eventually convinced Dodd that Hitler and his people were bad news for the entire world.Here s where the book falls down for me Larson got me interested in the Chicago World s Fair because I knew nothing about it, and he made it come alive I already know about how the Nazis came to power so the history piece of this is old news to me While there s some interesting slice of life details and Larson does a nice job of giving you a sense of the weird combination of paranoia, pride, terror and zeal that pervaded Germany in the 1930s, it s really nothing I haven t heard before Maybe I would have beeninterested if I would have found Dodd s storyintriguing, but frankly, the ambassador seemed about as interesting as a saltine cracker to me.Dodd comes across as a decent enough guy for his time He did advocate policies of getting tougher with Germany when most of America was in full isolationist mode, but aside from irking the Nazis with a couple of speeches and boycotting a couple of official functions, he really didn t do anything And as one of his critics of the time pointed out, an ambassador who refuses to meet with the government of the country he s in really isn t accomplishing much Dodd irritated others in America s diplomatic service with his constant criticism of their spending and seemedconcerned with cutting costs at the embassy rather than dealing with the Germans.The odd thing about this book is that Larson all but ignores Dodd s wife and son in favor of giving a detailed portrayal of his daughter, Martha Martha came along with her father as her first marriage was ending, and to put it mildly, she got around I mean, it s good that a woman in her time was sexually liberated enough to carry on with guys like the poet Carl Sandburg However, once she dated the head of the Gestapo and a top Soviet spy as well as many, many others, I had the impression that Martha was less than discriminating with her affections Hell, she even kinda went along with a half assed scheme one of the Nazis had to try and hook her up with Hitler himself.So this becomes the story of a mild mannered diplomat dealing with the rise of some of the most evil fucks in history, but he s pinching pennies at the embassy instead of giving visas to every Jewish person he could find And his daughter is a sleeping her way through Europe while at first extolling the virtues of the Nazis, then deciding that she s kind of a communist, but in the end Martha doesn t do much but put a smile on the face of any guy who gives her a wink and a smile In this case, I knew the history and only got a story about a couple of people who seem like they should have been maybe a chapter in larger history of the time and place Dodd and Martha just didn t impress or intrigue me enough to warrant reading a whole book about them It s disappointing that Larson decided to make them the center of this I didn t think you could make the rise of Hitler boring, butthis was Ever so much 300 pages of But unknown to Dodd, all the rich dudes in the US hated him and were saying things like blah blah blah and Martha was having yet another affair and Everyone in Berlin seemed happy but THE ATMOSPHERE WAS TENSE that all led up to a rather anticlimactic Night of the Long Knives I really just didn t care for anyone in the Dodd family Dodd himself seemed stuffy and did not, over the course of I didn t think you could make the rise of Hitler boring, butthis was Ever so much 300 pages of But unknown to Dodd, all the rich dudes in the US hated him and were saying things like blah blah blah and Martha was having yet another affair and Everyone in Berlin seemed happy but THE ATMOSPHERE WAS TENSE that all led up to a rather anticlimactic Night of the Long Knives I really just didn t care for anyone in the Dodd family Dodd himself seemed stuffy and did not, over the course of the book, seem to have the brilliant insight into the implications of the Nazi regime with which the epilogue credits him Martha was pretty insufferable and ultimately I had no idea why so much time was spent on her affairs I would ve vastly preferred a book about characters named only briefly, like Bella Fromm or Sigrid Schulz Be prepared to stay up reading into the wee hours once you get your hands on this book It held my interest better than any novel, and it filled in all the gaps in my understanding of how Hitler was able to gain so much power so quickly, with so little opposition Erik Larson used the detailed diaries of William E Dodd and his daughter Martha to reconstruct a year in the life for Americans in Berlin from 1933 to 1934.William Dodd had no idea what he was saying yes to when President Roosevelt Be prepared to stay up reading into the wee hours once you get your hands on this book It held my interest better than any novel, and it filled in all the gaps in my understanding of how Hitler was able to gain so much power so quickly, with so little opposition Erik Larson used the detailed diaries of William E Dodd and his daughter Martha to reconstruct a year in the life for Americans in Berlin from 1933 to 1934.William Dodd had no idea what he was saying yes to when President Roosevelt offered him the position of ambassador to Germany in 1933 Dodd had fond memories of the Germany of 40 years before, when he d attended college in Leipzig Upon arrival in Berlin, he and his family discovered a Germany already in the grip of terror, a mere six months after Hitler had been appointed chancellor Storm Troopers were attacking people in the streets Communists and liberals were already being sent to concentration camps without due process As ambassador, Dodd found he was required to attend diplomatic functions and rub shoulders with the monsters of the new regime As the horrors worsened, he found this increasingly repugnant, and tried doggedly to convince those in Washington that intervention was necessary His entreaties fell mostly on deaf ears Dodd s bosses wereconcerned about getting Germany to pay off their huge debt to America, while maintaining an isolationist position with regard to foreign conflicts While Dodd struggled with his diplomatic duties, his young daughter Martha was treating her time in Berlin as a lark She dated and consorted with highly placed Nazis, including some of the most abominable of Hitler s minions At first, she enthusiastically endorsed the Nazi agenda and its effect on the New Germany By the winter of 1933 34, however, she too was living in terror This didn t seem to put much of a damper on her dating life, though, and she gained a reputation as quite a round heeled girl In late June of 1934 came The Night of the Long Knives, in which Hitler orchestrated the rapid execution of hundreds of Storm Troopers and other enemies, some seemingly at random That August, President Hindenburg died Hitler quickly took control and achieved absolute power William Dodd remained in his position as ambassador for threeyears, during which American leaders continued to refuse his requests for intervention in Nazi Germany.This book has already earned a permanent place in my home library I can t recommend it highly enough Great care has been taken to provide all the little things that prevent confusion and make a book easier to read and understand I would give it six stars if I could