In the Garden of Beasts

garden of beasts cover image In the Garden of Beasts

by Erik Larson
Crown, 2011
Hardcover - 464 pages

During Hitler’s first year in power, FDR appointed a new ambassador to Berlin. He was William E. Dodd an obscure Chicago academic who, with his wife and two twenty-something children, embarked for Europe on the eve of the most vicious and violent epoch in human history. The family settled into an old house on Berlin’s central park - the Tiergarten (The Garden of Beasts) – and found themselves transported into the crucible of the Third Reich. The professor tried to use reason and quiet persuasion to temper Hitler and his henchman. His daughter, Martha, fresh from a dead marriage to a New York banker, ventured into the incredible energy of 1933 Berlin with a string of liaisons involving, among others, top Nazi and SS functionaries and, ultimately a Soviet agent. By the end of their tenure, Dodd’s warnings about the acute dangers of Nazism were largely ignored and Martha’s infatuation with it had flamed out. The rest is history told this compelling and readable book.