Friday, November 15, 2013

Book Review: In the Garden of Beasts

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

It's 1933, and Roosevelt has just named a new ambassador to Germany: William Dodd, a history professor from Chicago. Dodd takes his wife, son and progressive daughter with him to Berlin. Over the next year, violence against Jews escalates, Americans are attacked for not showing proper deference to Hitler, and new laws are written. Dodd is in a precarious position as all the State Department is concerned with is that Germany pays its debts to America. Martha, Dodd's daughter, initially is infatuated Nazi Germany, and her love life takes on a life of its own as she is not discriminating of who she takes for a lover, one of them being the Gestapo head Rudolf Diels. 

This is now the third book of Larson's I have read. While I enjoyed both The Devil in the White City and Isaac's Storm, this one is now my favorite. Larson always tells two stories in one book, one of which is usually drier and a little harder to get through. In this book though, the "dry" story is the politics of 1930s Berlin, which you could only find boring if you weren't the least bit intrigued as to how the world managed to look past the hints at Hitler's character and ambition and were deluded into thinking the Nazi Party was good leadership for Germany.

The exhilarating side of the book was of course Martha's numerous love affairs because she had so many, and no one seemed to care about what she did. She did what she wanted, with whom she wanted, whenever she wanted, even flirting with the idea of joining the KGB.

If you like Larson's books or if you like WWII or European history, you should read this book.

Disclosure: No one paid me in any way, form or fashion for this review.

Next month - The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

1 comment:

Jenn said...

I love this book. Did I tell you I went to hear him talk last spring? He focused on this book and the back story and it was FASCINATING. Such good stuff.