Becky'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
Jul 24, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: history
Read from July 11 to 24, 2012

This time period of history is just so important, a clear and concise view in recent history of how a government can stage a hostile takeover of its own people, and how easy it is for the world at-large to turn a blind eye.

Larson is a deft hand at history. He handled well the wide array of names, political positions, and titles across several countries, and at no point did I feel overburdened by the information. He expertly wove the narrative together in a way that made a very complex, very difficult situation, easier to understand; even it becomes no less bewildering.

Dodd did the best that he could do, in a horribly difficult position that he was completely unsuited for. Dodd was constricted by the too-slowly dissolving cultural and class distinctions and mannerisms, was out-maneuvered by Hitler and his propaganda wars, and railed useless against an administration that was bent on refusing to see the truth. Martha on the other hand seems like a completely intolerable person. She slept with what seems to be every Nazi official before becoming disenchanted with the regime, she uselessly spied for the Soviets against America, but more than that, she seems a dramatic diva, perhaps a little too naïve to be believable, and annoying. In her defense, however, she published a number of her father’s diaries and kept an illuminating diary during her stay in Germany, and so her words are drawn heavily on in the author’s narrative.

Still, while I found the text fantastic, it was not the page turner for me that it seems to be for others. It is, however, an excellent political history, and one of the best in the field. I would have given it 3.5 if I could have. I'm waffling between a permanent 3 or 4 star rating, but am leaning towards 4 due to the amazing amount of research and the presentation of the author.
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07/11/2012 "-audible- This might be waylaid by Artemis Fowl :D"
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