fleegan'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 07, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: non-fiction

In this work of nonfiction Larson tells about the American ambassador to Berlin, William Dodd, and his family as they live in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1936. The book is mostly about their first year in Berlin, and how much Germany changed in that one year.

The whole book is fascinating. I couldn't put it down.

Dodd's story was interesting, he wasn't a typical diplomat; he was a history professor. So it was interesting to see how this normal person handled this very political position. But the person who really stole the show, who really had the most interesting time in Berlin (and apparently even after) was Dodd's daughter, Martha. Martha Dodd was educated, slightly spoiled, slightly slutty, very independent-minded. I thought she had very American responses to the things she witnessed. And she was almost progressive when it came to relationships with men. She didn't care if they were German or Russian or what, she just liked the guys she liked, and they all fell in love with her.

As the book goes on and you realize that the United States isn't going to step in anytime soon, you start to read through your fingers, trying to hide your eyes from the hindsight you already know about. The book is absolutely great, and Larson's writing is so readable, the story flows the whole time; there's not a single boring chapter. It was fascinating from start to finish.

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