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In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
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Non-Fiction > Q4 Discussion- In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American in Hitler's Berlin

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Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments Hello Everyone!

Please discuss the book any time in this thread. Beware of reading spoilers beyond this post if you have not finished.

Enjoy!


Maggie | 801 comments I'll join in as soon as I get it from the library. I'm on a waiting list.


Stephen (SPG-) | 216 comments Same here - been waiting ages though !


Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments Must be a popular book.


Stephen (SPG-) | 216 comments Got the book from the library now (brand new copy as well !) - it's next on my list to read, once I finish the RJ Ellory one that I'm reading.


Marialyce | 1240 comments I have read this one, but will wait to talk about it when others finish. I liked it greatly and gave me a new insight into American politics and pre war Germany.


Daphne (Daphne2163) | 238 comments I also just picked it up from the library and will start it once I finish The Language of Flowers.


~ToniG~ | 190 comments Finished this one over the weekend! Enjoyed it very much! It was really insightful.


Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments Glad to hear the good reviews. I almost bought it and then saw many say it was not as good as The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. I shouldn't have let that scare me off. i will purchase and finish in time to discuss this quarter with you!


Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments My copy should be here in 2 days! Yay!


Stephen (SPG-) | 216 comments Started reading it now - fascinating inside story of what happened. Particularly interesting to see how other countries didn't take the threat of the Nazi regime seriously to start with and how the US restricted immigration of Jews who wanted to leave Germany in the early years because of the poor state of the jobs market in the early 1930s.


message 12: by Jill (last edited Nov 11, 2011 01:05PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments My book arrived! yay, now to get started


Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments I'm several chapters in and it is very interesting. I'm so glad I went ahead and bought the book.


Maggie | 801 comments The library FINALLY informed me that the book is waiting for me. I'll pick it up this weekend but, because I'm currently reading 6 others, I imagine it may be a week or so before I get to it.


Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments I am over half way through and really enjoying it. It is a very different perspective of the time and climate than I had been aware of before reading this book.


Ioana | 533 comments Jill wrote: "I am over half way through and really enjoying it. It is a very different perspective of the time and climate than I had been aware of before reading this book."

Jill,
Me too - a little over half through, and really enjoying it. I've read a few WWII books this year, and this is the first one about its pre-years.


Ioana | 533 comments Jill wrote: "Glad to hear the good reviews. I almost bought it and then saw many say it was not as good as The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America...."

Jill,
I actually like it more than The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America.


Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments I think I liked it more than TDITWC also. That novel drug along with a lot of architecture and political details that didn't add to my enjoyment.

We always think, "How on earth did we get to the place where a country was gassing/ incenerating people?" I think this book gives some great insights. Even if they are from the point of view of a couple of people. yes, personal perception may be an opinion, but you can tie the comments to the effects and it all makes sense to me. Well, as far as how Hitler and his cronies came to power and how the German people perceived what was happening.

I have finished and I am so glad I read this. I am not so fond of WW2 novels and history and I really liked it!


Stephen (SPG-) | 216 comments Thought it was very interesting that the Nazis' hold on power was quite tenuous until the Night of the Long Knives - also revealing how Hitler was saying one thing to the Western World and yet gradually making changes towards his real goals internally. Scary how political propaganda could be used in the way that it was, as well. Will definitely read some more books about this era. Did think the book ended quite abruptly though and preferred TDITWC and also Isaac's Storm, which was another one of his that I really enjoyed.


Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments I was surprised at how much warning communication people in Europe were sending to the President and State Department. All they cared about was the outstanding debt. There could have been subtle intervention long before Hitler's regime gained complete power.

I have been thinking of reading Isaac's Storm. I think it was about the Gavleston Hurricane and I live in Houston. We hear a lot about it historically and Larson has such a unique way to presenting history.


Stephen (SPG-) | 216 comments Remember reading in Isaac's Storm that Galveston was the main city in Texas up until that point so think it is required reading for anyone from Houston !


message 22: by Marialyce (last edited Nov 22, 2011 06:05PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marialyce | 1240 comments I thought the book told us how informed we could have been about Hitler and yet chose to be more concerned about money owed. Gee, how surprising that money talked then as well as now!
It did remind me of the movie Cabaret and how everyone seemed to be out for a good time and to h__ with everything else. It made me wonder how things would have been different given a different set of values than the almighty dollar.

I liked Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in
History
the best of all of the novels written by him.


Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments Sounds like I better hurry and read Isaac's Storm!


Ioana | 533 comments Jill wrote: "I was surprised at how much warning communication people in Europe were sending to the President and State Department. All they cared about was the outstanding debt. There could have been subtle ..."

I will probably sound cynical…but in politics, money seems to be always the driver. How sad…and we (or “they”?) never learn.


Marialyce | 1240 comments You don't sound cynical at all...
It is just the way of the world....as they say money talks..

It is just so mind blowing that this and other horrendous events might have been prevented.

Jill, I think you would like that book....it hit me a lot since we had just been hit by Irene and had six inches of water in the house....so I could imagine the destruction because of what damage we had with only a few inches.


Karen | 258 comments I'm about half way through the book and I have to say it's just amazing how many people turned a blind eye to what was going on around them, or ignored those that weren't so blind. I've read a lot of books about WW2 but this one is covering stuff that isn't really covered in any of the others I've read. I'm hoping to have it finished before my company arrives on Sunday.


Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments What is your opinion of Mary Dodd?

William Dodd?


Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments Who of the Nazi officials we get to know through the eyes of the Dodd family is the most evil? crazy? immature?

Do you feel Mary or William's viewpoints are accurate or a distorted perspective?


message 29: by Jill (last edited Nov 26, 2011 08:15PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments Do you feel a more traditional ambassador would have been more successful in raising an alarm to the Nazi regime danger? Why? Why Not?


message 30: by Jill (last edited Nov 26, 2011 08:22PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments Do you think it was shocking how sexually promiscuous Mary Dodd was for the social culture of the time?


Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments What is your opinion of William Dodd's personal feelings that ambassadors should live within their salary and on cutting embassy costs given the Depression?


Stephen (SPG-) | 216 comments Jill wrote: "Do you feel a more traditional ambassador would have been more successful in raising an alarm to the Nazi regime danger? Why? Why Not?"

Wouldn't have made any difference who the Ambassador was - the political interests in the US to do nothing (due to wanting to try and get debt repaid and stay out of any war) were far too strong. At least he did a good job of irritating Hitler but that's all he could really achieve. Could have kept better control over his daughter - or sent her home - though !


Marialyce | 1240 comments Jill wrote: "What is your opinion of William Dodd's personal feelings that ambassadors should live within their salary and on cutting embassy costs given the Depression?"


I applaud his decision. He really thought it an honor to serve and did not feel he or anyone should be allowed to profit off of this position. Too bad so many of out diplomats felt and still feel a huge sense of entitlement to this position. Perhaps if we looked a little more humble and a lot less haughty we might be able to make a difference in the world. I hope we do have diplomats that follow strict conventions and keep the costs down, but I tend to think that is and was a rarity. I think Dodd got a tremendous amount of flack for his decision. He made others look bad, frivolous and costly behavior hurts us both financially and in the minds of the poor people of the world.


Lewis Weinstein (lewweinstein) Jill wrote: "I think I liked it more than TDITWC also. That novel drug along with a lot of architecture and political details that didn't add to my enjoyment.

We always think, "How on earth did we get to th..."


In the Garden of Beasts is on my list of "to be read" as I research for my 5th novel. Other books of interest on the same topic and time period are (selected from a very long list)...

Broszat, Martin, The Hitler State: The Foundation and Development of the Internal Structure of the Third Reich, an interpretative study of the Hitler state

Cantrell, Rebecca, A Night of Long Knives ... NOVEL ... centers on the Nazi's strengthening their power over all aspects of German society.

Irving, David, Goring: A BIOGRAPHY ... Irving demonstrates in convincing fashion [that] Göring's dark talents were no match for his insatiable appetites - for drugs, ludicrous opulence and priceless paintings . . . Göring is an informative and sobering account - an indictment really - of a man with no redeeming virtue."

Isherwood, Christopher, The Berlin Stories ... NOVEL ... Berlin 1930 ... The Berlin Stories merge fact and fiction and contain ostensibly objective, frequently comic tales of marginal characters who live shabby and tenuous existences as expatriates in Berlin; the threat of the political horrors to come serves as subtext.

Kerr, Philip, If the Dead Rise Not (Bernie Gunther) ... NOVEL ... Berlin 1936 ... sixth Bernie Gunther novel … Gunther has left the Berlin police force for a job as a hotel detective … German efforts to forestall an American boycott of the 1936 Olympics

Matthaus, Jurgen, Jewish Responses to Persecution, 1933-1946: Volume I, 1933-1938 ... This first volume, taking us from Hitler's rise to power through the aftermath of Kristallnacht, vividly reveals the increasing devastation and confusion wrought in Jewish communities in and beyond Germany at the time.


Karen | 258 comments Jill wrote: "Do you think it was shocking how sexually promiscuous Mary Dodd was for the social culture of the time?"

Mary is not the only promiscuous female in that era, but what is shocking is that she is the daughter of an ambassador, who should show some restraint. And her father, where was he? It amazes me that he allowed that kind of behaviour while he's attempting to make an impression on a foreign government.

In more than one place in the novel other dignitaries 'voiced' their displeasure about her antics but no one ever really came out and said 'put a leash on her'. No one can know exactly what they were thinking but I'm truly surprised that someone didn't slap her (or her father) upside the head and tell them to get a clue.


Karen | 258 comments Jill wrote: "What is your opinion of Mary Dodd?

William Dodd?"


I never got a really good impression of William Dodd, he was a here and gone again character. The places he was mentioned didn't really add up to much. He was with them when they went on the road trip to Nuremberg, and here and there throughout, but I never really got to know him, unless I missed something.

Mary, on the other hand, was prominent. She seemed very flighty and shallow, more in tune to her world as opposed to the world around her. I'm very surprised that her behaviour was completely ignored by her parents, and that not one person ever sat her down and gave her a good lecture.


Maggie | 801 comments I'm only a few chapters in, but I would suggest that everyone review the notes at the end of the book at the end of every chapter or so. Larson (like Doris Kearns Goodwin and some others) sometimes adds more information in the notes section. Some of it is very entertaining.


Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments Hi Karen, I was thinking more Abassador Dodd and not the son. But it was strange that hardly anything is mentioned about the son by either his father or sister's diaries.


Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments Hi Marialyce, I was mulling over the type of people chosen to be ambassadors and whether or not things would have changed as far as the opulance and conspicuous spending. I'm tending to think now....


Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments Hi Stephen, I tend to agree that any ambassador would have faced the same challenges. It's interesting to wish in hindsight that a more accepted "Good Enough Club" or whatever they were called member could have made someone else listen. Dodd was discredited due to being an outsider. But who knows if another would have even focused on these issues given the main directive to get the loans repaid.


Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments Lew, thanks for the additional resources. I skimmed through the foot notes at the back of the book and there are a lot of good notes there also.


Marialyce | 1240 comments Jill wrote: "Do you think it was shocking how sexually promiscuous Mary Dodd was for the social culture of the time?"

I was not really shocked by her behavior, but was shocked that her father allowed her to carry on the way she did. I think she was definitely a free spirit and embraced the do anything philosophy that always seemed prevalent before war time. The partying, the drinking, the fun times kept on rolling and she was definitely a party girl who exhibited little or no self control. I was amazed that her father did not send her home, but perhaps he thought her behavior was at least a bit hidden from the home town crowd. She must have been like this before. One usually, I think, does not all of a sudden become a sex siren without having the tendency before hand. She had to be an embarrassment.


Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments I think of the 20s and 60s as sexually free and the time in between as being more reserved. Not open to women sleeping around without being ostracized from society.

As for her father, I really think he was a little slow, only wanted to think the best of his daughter. Yes, he had to know she was a flirt, but I don't think he realized she was having outright affairs with Nazis and diplomats. If he thought conspicuous spending was offensive, surely he wouldn't have stood for Mary damaging her country's and his reputation. Probably it was one of those situations where people were uncomfortable outright saying, "tell your daughter to keep her legs shut." Sorry if that offends anyone.


Karen | 258 comments Jill wrote: "Hi Karen, I was thinking more Abassador Dodd and not the son. But it was strange that hardly anything is mentioned about the son by either his father or sister's diaries."

Oops! I was obviously not paying attention, or had a blonde moment. lol


message 45: by Jill (last edited Nov 29, 2011 07:13AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments I think they had the same name, but the son is like Ritchie Cunningham's invisible brother from Happy Days TV show, so I could be wrong. it's hard to remember, he was mentioned so little.


Karen | 258 comments Yes they have the same name but I was still not paying attention. The kids are Martha and Bill, and the parents are Mary and Bill. I've got the two totally mixed up.


Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments hahahaha, OK, then I'm just as confused as you because I've been calling Martha by her mother's name!


Karen | 258 comments Oh that's good, at least I know I'm not alone. lol


Jill (Jillybeans) | 4474 comments My local book store just shared an article on Facebook about our 4th quarter book!

Tom Hanks has purchased the rights to In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin to make a movie and is probably going to play William Dodd.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news...


Marialyce | 1240 comments Love Tom Hanks. I think he will be wonderful in the part.


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