In the Garden of Beasts: love, terror, and an American family in Hitler’s Berlin

Erik Larson

In the Garden of Beasts: love, terror, and an American family in Hitler's Berlin
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In the Garden of Beasts: love, terror, and an American family in Hitler’s Berlin

Erik Larson

Berlin, 1933. William E. Dodd, a mild-mannered academic from Chicago, becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany, where he is about to witness a turning point in history.

Dodd and his family observe firsthand the many changes - some subtle, some disturbing, and some horrifically violent - that signal Hitler’s consolidation of power. The ambassador has little choice but to associate with key figures in the Nazi party, and his increasingly concerned cables make little impact on an indifferent US State Department. Meanwhile, his daughter, Martha, is drawn to the young men of the Third Reich and their vision of a ‘New Germany', and has a succession of affairs with senior party players, including the first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels.

As the year darkens, the Dodds find their lives transformed, and any last illusions they might have about Hitler are shattered. Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the times, and with brilliant portraits of Hitler, Goebbels, Göring, Himmler, and others, Erik Larson’s extraordinary book sheds unique light on events as they unfold, resulting in an unforgettable, addictively readable work of narrative history.   

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