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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

In The Garden Of Beasts

In the Garden of Beasts is quite simply a great read. Written by popular historian Erik Larson it is the true and haunting story of a real American family trapped in a time and place of ultimate horror. It is also a vivid portrait of Berlin during the first years of Hitler’s reign. Chicago history professor William E. Dodd, who in 1933 became America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s regime, and his scandalously carefree daughter, Martha, along with his son and spouse are an odd fit among the extravagance and moral decadence of the Nazi elite. Dodd’s increasing concerns about Hitler’s ambitions are ignored by the State Department. His 24 year old daughter Martha, on the other hand, is hypnotized by the life style of a soon to be changed Berlin’s salon society. The rise of Nazi Germany is a oft told tale in history. For this reason, In the Garden of Beasts is simply amazing because it tells the story in a way that brings it all down to the level of the actions of real people acting in an unfamiliar situation. Each step along the way is such that we say to ourselves "oh my god someone must stop this before it’s too late."
Naive and diplomatically inexperienced, Ambassador Dodge eventually saw the darkness at the end of the road. The Nazi psychopaths had taken over a country, had begun killing people out of hand and the world did nothing.
Dodd mistakingly thought he could exercise a "moderating influence over Hitler and his government."
Martha was newly divorced from her first husband and out for a good time. This included a French diplomat, the head of the Gestapo and a Soviet spy... among others. This all amidst Jews and other "undesirables" being stripped of their livelihoods, property and basic civil rights. In one nightmarish mob scene, Martha and two male traveling companions witnessed the near-lynching of a woman who had a relationship with a Jewish man.
Hitler himself told Dodd that "If they (Jews) continue their activity, we shall make a complete end to all of them in this country." .
The Tiergarten was Berlins Central Park and zoo. The Dodds lived right adjacent to it. They took walks there. They admired the beautiful landscape. And met the animals who terrorized the world.


PC said...

My wife just bought this one. The only question now is which one of us will get to read it first!

Arkansas Patti said...

That definitely is one I will find and read.
Thanks TB

Montanagirl said...

You sure have the knack for finding interesting things to read! Love that Pileated WP too.

NCmountainwoman said...

I thought of you when I read this book and meant to recommend it to you. My husband had not read Larson before and he's now reading "Devil in the White City." He may be the last history buff to read it!

Joe said...

I'm reading Thunderstruck right now by Larson. He is a great author.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Dear and kind gentleman, I was ATTRACTED BY THAT FABULOUS TWINS LOGO! I am in Minneapolis!!!

Thank you sir, for your kind words on my Provincia post. How interesting of a life you have lived and lead...and that EAGLE on your sidebar! It is refreshing to find a gentleman blogger. My dear and wonderful husband is a rare BIRD in blogland and has a great blog called HEAVENLY MINDED EARTHLY GOOD and he is a magnificent writer, but does not get many visitors. Pay him a visit if you ever are interested. Many thanks for your time!!! Anita

Unknown said...

My summer goal is to re-read all the Sherlock Holmes stories. I want to jog my mind on them all before my son digs into them so we can compare notes.