Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Review: In the Garden of Beasts

Author: Erik Larson

Title: In the Garden of Beasts:  Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin                                      
Description: Roosevelt needs an ambassador to pre-WWII Germany. When several other choices turn him down, he appoints William Dodd, a history professor at the University of Chicago. Already out of his element, he arrived in Germany to find Hitler rising in power and various groups competing for his approval. As he began to realize that war was a distinct possibility, he realized that no one in the U.S. took him seriously. Meanwhile, his reckless daughter was making conquests of Nazis, spies, and pretty much anything else that wore pants.   
Source: This was a book group read.
Writing style: This book was straight, documentary history, not my typical reading material.
Audience: People who are interested in WWII and diplomatic history.
Major ideas: There might have been something the U.S. could have done to avoid war, had Dodd’s warnings been heeded.

Wrap-up: Although I believe that everything in the book was found in primary documents, Larson put the facts together in a way that was utterly fascinating.  Some surprises for me: the U.S. agreed that there was a “Jewish problem.” Hitler’s henchmen hated each other (I always figured they were a happy gang of evildoers). Germany had a president when Hitler rose to power. Anyway, it was a gripping story. 5/5*

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