Thursday, July 28, 2011

(120)In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson


In the Garden of Beasts

Publication Date : May 10, 2011
464 Pages


Erik Larson has earned a name for himself as a Historian that has an incredible way with words. His best selling novel, The Devil in the White City , is still on the bestsellers list after being published for over seven years.

His new book, In The Garden of Beasts, takes on a whole new level of evil. He takes on Hitler. Larson goes into 1933 Germany with the US Ambassador, William E. Dodd, during a time of Hitler and his young Nazi regime. Along with Dodd are his wife, Mattie, son, Bill Jr, and his daughter, Martha. Very little is shared about Mattie and Bill Jr during their stay in Germany. The book is mostly centered around Dodd and his daughter, Martha.

Dodd's stint as Ambassador is a bit unconventional in a lot of ways, but it is the tales of Martha's time in Berlin that make the story unforgettable. To be polite, I will just say that she was a bit of a social butterfly. But to be honest, even by today's standards, she was a bit of a tart. She looked at her father's status as Ambassador as a free pass to enjoy the "New Germany" in every way she could. Ultimately it is the tales of Hitler and his henchmen that give this story the shock value. They are just getting their start in 1933, but they hint at the atrocities that are to come with their actions and behaviors. The details of "The Purge" was so vivid and so descriptive that I had a really hard time continuing. But I did.

In the Garden of Beasts is exactly what we have come to expect from Erik Larson. He has done his research well and tells us a story of Nazi Germany that many of us did not know. The story, as a whole, is interesting and full of facts. Within that story are a few parts that are incredibly dry and drawn out. If you can stick with it through those parts, I think you will overall, enjoy this book. Well, as much as you can enjoy a book about the early days of the Holocaust. At the very least you will learn something. And knowledge is power.

2 comments:

The Tame Lion said...

Wonderful! Terrific!
Great post! Great review!

Espana said...

Erik Larson has the awesome ability to make historical events read like a novel. His latest work doesn't have the same kind of tension and drama as "Devil in the White City". "In the Garden of Beasts" deals with a time in history and a profound force of evil. We know the eventual outcome. Hitler rises to power, a second world war begins, Germany loses. The wonder of this book is its unique perspective. Larson uses the Dodd family to guide us through the house of horrors that was Germany in the 1930's and beyond. William Dodd, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, had a lifelong love of Germany and its culture. He and his somewhat "unorthodox" daughter walk us through Hitler's eventual rise to absolute power, and the reader can feel the growing tension, fear, and disgust they experience. As a student of German history, I never could grasp how the German people allowed this house of horrors to be built.

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