And so were the extraordinarily candid, often unflattering records of his thoughts upon which Mr. Larson has abundantly drawn. As for FDR himself, though for the most part lending a sympathetic ear to Dodd’s warnings, he eventually surrendered to the isolationism that inspired the majority of Americans—the ignorant clarion call of “America First” that echoes, appallingly, once again today. “In the Garden of Beasts” is, in the main, the story of William Dodd, a mild-mannered academic from Chicago, who to his own and everyone else’s surprise was appointed by … Their son, William Jr., was at 28 four years older than Martha when their father took the Berlin posting, and stayed much less visible than his highly dramatic sister. They failed, notably, to condemn the conspicuous evidence of bigotry and cruelty they could not help but notice on the public streets, before their very eyes. Summary. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about … In the Garden of Beasts Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin Set in Berlin in 1933-1934, the book tells the story of America’s first ambassador to Nazi Germany, William E. Dodd, and his daughter Martha, as they experience the rising terror of Hitler’s rule. We have already slipped deeper into callousness, animosity and corruption than most of us thought possible. Yes, this was a family that joked excitedly after Hitler had kissed Martha’s hand, advising that she not wash the part that his lips had touched. Mr. Larson makes every aspect of the Dodds’ domestic lives reflect the larger changes around them. But he was 64, felt morosely elderly and thought that Germany might be a safe, quiet place for him to complete his writing project. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson This story covers the Dodd family and their lives amongst the beast machine of Hitler's Nazi Germany. IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS: Book review. Though she would become a popular author, live a long, complicated life and eventually be accused of spying for the Soviet Union, the young Martha favored breathless, thick-headed comments that no nonfiction chronicler of the Dodds’ misadventure would have dared to make up. Dodd did not arrive in Germany predisposed to notice the way a regime might mistreat certain segments of its population. Not being an avid non-fiction reader (although I'm getting better about that), it is sometimes hard for me get through a book choc full of dates, geography and personal titles without either being royally confused or painfully bored. But she was not the one who had to contend with increasingly violent and random attacks by German storm troopers on American visitors or had to report back to President Roosevelt. This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. We have already witnessed crass behavior and political actions we deplore, directions taken that are alien to who we thought we were. ©2021 Verizon Media. Dodd was also the father of Martha Dodd Stern, an indiscriminate flirt who looked at a stint in Germany as a glamorous lark, and whose own abundant writing fills “In the Garden of Beasts” with outré remarks. in Book Review. As Larson portrays him, Dodd was an academic and a “Jeffersonian liberal,” a man of considerable integrity, who was clear-sighted in his understanding of Nazism and its goals, and prescient about its eventual militarist aggression. Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring 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. This, then, is the lesson for us today. 4 train commutes and half an hour at home on Tuesday night. 03/29/2017 05:42 pm ET. There are individual accounts that personalize the atmosphere of mounting oppression and terror. On our side of the Atlantic, however, things were not that much better. Roosevelt asked Dodd to become the American No. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson is a non-fiction book published in 2011. And the Berlin post was no plum. The terrible conclusion that we reach, in reading In the Garden of Beasts, is that, given vigilance, given honesty and integrity and sound judgment on the part of many, both within and outside Germany during those early years, Hitler could—and should—have been halted in his tracks. The troubled tenure of an academic US ambassador and his wayward daughter offers a fresh view of … In his time, he was taunted, undercut and called “Ambassador Dud.” Hitler would refer to him in retrospect as “an imbecile.” Yet Dodd spent four years, from 1933 to 1937, in what was arguably the worst job of that era. “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin,” by Erik Larson. Other candidates had already shown their reluctance to do time in what, even before Adolf Hitler assumed absolute power, was an increasingly menacing Germany. “In the Garden of Beasts” has the clarity of purpose to see the Germany of 1933 through the eyes of this uniquely well-positioned American family. In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson, Community Member Book Review, by Jason W. As Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of Beasts,” in my opinion, is one of Larson’s better works about history. Book Review: In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson Tweet Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin is worth reading if only for the utterly surrealistic Chapter 42, “Hermann’s Toys”, which recounts a Sunday afternoon at Carinhall. Without vigilance, we surrender out integrity slowly, by degrees; and before long we find that we have abandoned everything that was important to us, everything that defined who we are as human beings. 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