Brian'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 13, 2011

really liked it
Read from June 02 to 06, 2012 — I own a copy

(4.0) The accidental diplomat and his promiscuous daughter in pre-WWII Berlin

I've really enjoyed both Erik Larson book's I've read. This good as well. Well researched, well explained. And even though he walks us through it, I still can't see how Dodd ended up being the ambassador to Nazi Germany. It was clearly a critical role (stateside, the primary concern was that Germany paid her debts to American creditors), and he was immediately looked down upon by the rest of the far-more-wealthy diplomatic class in Berlin.

Not sure how much Larson plays up the "playboy" lifestyle that Dodd's daughter Martha lived in Berlin (odd that Martha's mother was most often referred to as "Dodd's wife", as if she didn't have her own name...but Martha is referred to on first-name basis), but seems pretty scandalous even by today's standards (perhaps not in diplomatic circles?). I can see why many thought she was a spy (probably in several directions).

But what a unique vantage point to see the Nazi party gain more and more control, all the while outsiders and insiders expecting them to loosen their grip once control of government was assured. Not sure it matters who was the American ambassador at the time, but things may have progressed a little differently if our representatives were more outspoken against Nazi actions (rather than, say, covering them up, even when the victims were American citizens).
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Brian mostly directed at otis cause i think he's reading this now.

Andrew Coincidentally just got this. Hoping to start it soon but so many others to read too!

Brian Cool, be sure to write a review and/or recommend it to me when you do read it! (Have you read Devil in the White City by the way? I'm definitely enjoying...)

Brian Oh heehee I think you just added Devil to your to-read shelf, so I take it you haven't read it.... ;)

Andrew That's right, haven't read it and don't own it, so been meaning to read!

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