Lisa's Reviews > In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
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's review
Jun 28, 2012

really liked it
Read from June 21 to 27, 2012

For the few areas that drag there are a ton of areas that are so fascinating and suspenseful. That Hitler...what a nut bag and this was only just the beginning. William E. Dodd, the American ambassador to Germany during the rise of Hitler was sent over for purely fiscal reasons (Germany owed the US a butt load of cash and we gots to get paid!) and he wasn't terribly effective. However, Dodd had a front row seat to the rise of fascism and the US Govt looked the other way blaming his personal habits for his failures. Of course, we know how that story ends.

His daughter Martha, who is the other central character is a mad cap, women about town who was initially seduced by the Reich. Falling in and out of lust with various high ranking Nazi's, she flirted with communist espionage and only over time grew a disliking to Nazi Germany. Her path is interesting because she does things so un-American for being an ambassador's daughter. Maybe that's because I live in a time of heightened patriotism and people were more blase then?

Roosevelt and the State Dept. come off as looking like total boobs. Here's Dodd frantically writing letters of warning of the situation in Germany and they all just thought he was like this frugal, old history prof. With multiple accounts of attacks on Americans the State Dept. never issued a travel warning for Americans traveling in Germany prior to 1939 even though it was hardly safe. Sure, Dodd completely failed to accomplish his objective which was to get Germany to pay up, but that was always a lost cause.

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