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In The Garden Of Beasts: Love, Terror, And An American Family In Hitler's Berlin (2011)

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin (2011)

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3.76 of 5 Votes: 1
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0307408841 (ISBN13: 9780307408846)

About book In The Garden Of Beasts: Love, Terror, And An American Family In Hitler's Berlin (2011)

About a third of the way through the book and reading about Ambassador's Dodd's daughter's escapades, it struck me how much this was like one of the movie comedies from the same era. The upright father: befuddled and ineffective in the midst of all that is going on. The wife: equally ineffective and almost a cipher to the plot. The son: the "only normal one in the bunch" but he almost disappears early on. Finally, the ingenue - Martha- who seems to mirror the young ladies in the movies who were always earning to "be free, free, free!" or "live, live, live". And wasting their time of frivolous causes or the latest intellectual fad. At least, until Gary Cooper or William Powell show them how to love and live a real life. No one like that ever showed up for Martha, it seems, and she continued to chase intellectual fads and sex for the rest of her relatively pampered life. Still, the book has value and it shows how Germans continually fooled themselves about the new energy sweeping over Germany and how seriously bad Hitler was going to be. And how the world was fooled also and thought Hitler would act like a normal politician. Meanwhile, their concern was to not rock the boat, take no actions that might require tough decisions and expensive actions, and collect the interest on their loans. Worth reading but not very revelatory as history. Let me start by saying I loved 'Devil in the White City.' I liked 'In the Garden of Beasts' but didn't love it. It's an interesting topic...William E. Dodd, a professor at the University of Chicago was appointed Ambassador to Germany by President Roosevelt while Hitler was Chancellor and the rise of Nazi Germany had begun. Dodd brings his family (wife, adult daughter and adult son) with him to Germany. The book leaves the wife and son on the back burner and concentrates on Dodd and his daughter, Martha. Erik Larson is a crackerjack researcher and this is quite detailed. Yet, I think it falls flat. William Dodd saw what was happening in Germany and yet he failed to convince his superiors to act. I think part of the problem lies in the fact that Dodd is not charismatic. He probably was the wrong man for the job and was perceived as weak by both Germany and politicians in the United States. His daughter, Martha, did him no favor by hobnobbing around Germany, having several affairs with whomever appealed to her whether they be Nazi's or Fascists. I keep thinking that it would have been a better read if Dodd and his daughter had been left out.

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Overall an interesting aspect of Nazi Germany, but the story itself ends too early.

I'm such an Erik Larson fan. Lots of history, beautiful technique.

very compelling.

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