Wednesday, December 23, 2020

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

Book: In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
Author: Erik Larson

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 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 ambition.-Goodreads

Review: A very detailed and fascinating account of Ambassador Dodd and his daughter, Martha in Berlin. While the title implies 'American Family' this was primarily about Dodd and his daughter, as she kept a detailed diary about everything going on around them. It was very interesting to hear about the role of an ambassador and how they were chosen at the time. Very interesting read for those who gravitate towards WWII books. 

Grade: 4/5

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