Friday, October 21, 2011

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

This is the newest book by the author who wrote Devil in the White City. This time, he covers Berlin during 1933/1934. He follows William E. Dodd who is America's ambassador at the time. Dodd moved his wife and his family (he had two grown children - one daughter, one son) over to Berlin. The daughter was quite the flirt, having scandalous affairs with many men, including the first chief of the Gestapo.

Dodd suspected that Hitler was up to no good, and warned United States officials about him. But the US, still believing that isolationism was the best foreign policy stance to take, paid no heed to his warnings. Dodd definitely made some very accurate predictions about the dangers of Hitler and how Europe was going to be affected, and he was pretty much dismissed by his colleagues.

This book is substantial (about 400 pages), in-depth, and well-researched. It's intense and fascinating, filled with information about Berlin and Hitler's early days of power that I had never read about before. I read it in a few days which was not such a good idea. I found my brain too absorbed in Hitler's Germany which was not a good place for me to be for hours and hours at a time. I figured out that I had to take frequent breaks and even had to take a break from the book for a day.

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