In the Garden of Beasts

Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin

By Erik Larson
(Broadway Books, Paperback, 9780307408853, 480pp.)

Publication Date: May 1, 2012

List Price: $16.00*
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the Summer 2012 Reading Group
“Larson once again tells the story of real people living through momentous, historic events. In 1933, William Dodds becomes America's ambassador to Germany, a year after Adolf Hitler was named chancellor of Germany. Dodds brings his family with him to Berlin, including his daughter, Martha, a vivacious socialite. The U.S. State Department shows more concern about reconciliation with Germany in hopes of debt repayment than in the increasing signs that Hitler is stepping up violence against Jews and building up his military capabilities. With the Dodds family, you will be right in the middle of the events that led up to WWII.”
-- Jeanne Costello, Maria's Bookshop, Durango, CO


Description

Erik Larson, New York Times bestselling author of Devil in the White City, delivers a remarkable story set during Hitler’s rise to power.

The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Nazi 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 suprisingly 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.
    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. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.




About the Author
Erik Larson is the bestselling author of the National Book Award finalist and Edgar Award-winning "The Devol in the white city. He lives in Seattle with his wife, three daughters, and a dog named Molly.


NPR
Friday, May 4, 2012

William Dodd served for four years as the ambassador to Germany before resigning â?? after repeated clashes with both Nazi Party officials and the State Department. Erik Larson chronicles Dodd's time in Berlin in his new book, In the Garden of Beasts. More at NPR.org

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Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. In his prologue (“Das Vorspiel”), Erik Larson writes, “There are no heroes here, at least not of the Schindler’s List variety, but there are glimmers of heroism.” What heroism did you find in this history? Who were the greatest cowards?

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