Review: In The Garden of Beasts, Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson
Title: In The Garden of Beasts, Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
Author: Erik Larson
Publisher: Broadway Paperbacks/Crown Publishing--Trademarks of Random House, Inc. 2012
First published in Hardcover May 2011
Labels: World War II, Nazi Party, Hitler, Germany, History, Socialism, Communism, Soviet Union, America
Rating: 5 Stars
William E. Dodd age 64 is a professor and writer from Chicago, he became the American Ambassador to Germany in 1933. He was reluctant to take this position, even though President Roosevelt personally called him by phone. Dodd, his wife, and two adult children Martha and Bill, arrived in Berlin, Germany July 1933. They are not in Berlin long when the threatening nature and criminal activities of the Nazi Party become apparent. Dodd is a reserved, sober-minded, practical man. His wife is a minor character in the book. She is a loving and supportive wife. In my opinion she seems to be an obtuse person. She seems absorbed in nonsensical things. Son Bill is also a minor character. He continues his education in Germany. Martha stands out with a dynamic part in this book. Her fraternizing with members of the Nazi Party, and well-known communists, should have been troublesome to her parents. Yet, her parents turn a blind eye so to speak. The book begins in 1933 and follows the family until 1937. There is an epilogue which gives closure to the family.
|Rudolf Diels and Ernst (Putzi) Hanfstaengl|
If the book had been about William E. Dodd alone, it would not have held my attention. Although his work in Germany pre-World War II was interesting and important, and it gave a viewpoint from an observant American. It was Martha Dodd that gave sparkle to the book. I have to admit she was a scoundrel, lacking in morality, lacking in American patriotism, lacking in faithfulness, and lacking in how she appeared or would be remembered for history. I believe she was a woman that was constantly swept-up emotionally in the temporary moment. A book psychoanalyzing her might have been interesting. Her father was an American Ambassador to Germany, America's key representative appointed by the president. Yet, Martha did as she pleased without care, or even remorse. But, because of her life choices, she gave a view of history of some of the individuals in the Nazi Party that the public might not have seen. For example: Rudolph Hess, Heinrich Himmler, Ernst Rohm, Rudolf Diels, Ernest Udet, Putzi Hanfstaengl, and Adolph Hitler. I find her interesting, yet abhorrent. She is the epitome of the song, I Did it My Way.
Why did I give this book 5 stars for excellent.
- Even though Martha gave a sparkle (so to speak) to this book. The author never lets her take away from the horrors of the genocide of the Jewish people, nor any of the other innocent lives the Nazi's murdered.
A link to see in old film footage Martha Dodd:
Link for book @ Amazon: