In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson; 356 pages


The year is 1933. Hitler is rising to power in Germany while the United States is going through the Depression. The US has just appointed college professor William E. Dodd as its ambassador to Germany in Berlin. Dodd brings with him his wife, son, and daughter Martha during one of the most pivotal periods in history. While their perception of Germany is positive to start, they soon learn that things aren’t always as pleasant as they thought. 

My thoughts: 

I am always amazed by what Larson chooses to write about. I thought his choice of characters was very interesting, given the time period but now I understand why he chose the ambassador and his daughter as the main focus. In 1933, when Dodd was appointed, he and his family were more or less ignorant to what was going on in Germany. Dodd was also the type of person who thoroughly thought things through before making a decision. Time and time again he failed to issue travel warnings to Americans, choosing to believe the German government would see reason in his words. And then he realized they wouldn’t. 

There were so many things that should have been red flags for the Americans though. There were so many outbursts by high ranking Nazi officials, so many cases of ignored international requests… how does this now raise a red flag? It sounds like the State Department was too busy focusing on how Dodd liked to live modestly and were too busy trying to oust him that they failed to recognize what was really going on. Oh and let’s not forget that getting your money back is cause enough to ignore the violence against your people. 

Also, I knew there were anti-Jewish sentiments at the time but I never realized just how bad it was. If I could go back in time I would start smacking people upside the head and tell them to get their heads out of their asses. 

The one thing I couldn’t stand was Martha with all of her lovers and suitors. She was another reason why the State Department didn’t take Dodd seriously and it really hurt his cause. He was the only person who saw this war coming and no one would listen to him. 

Maybe I’m a little biased because I know what happens next but I feel like so little was done to avoid another conflict. I feel that if a few things had gone differently, some of the atrocities that occurred may not have happened on such a grand scale … 

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Goodreads Challenge 2017: (8/105)

Pop Sugar 2017 Challenge: A book with a subtitle

Next review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone by JK Rowling 

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