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In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin

Erik Larson has been widely acclaimed as a master of narrative non-fiction, and in his new book, the bestselling author of Devil in the White City turns his hand to a remarkable story set during Hitler’s rise to power.

The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.

A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another, including with the suprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance--and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition.

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  • Chris

    I'm glad to have read it. I doubt if I'll ever forget the name of that Al Stewart song again. And it's great to have new members! (Not that there's anything wrong with the old ones. Or that they're old.)

    September 28, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    It was great to meet some new members! I hope you all come back...

    September 27, 2012

  • Sue O

    Loved the conversation. Great to have new members join us.

    September 27, 2012

  • Chris

    You might remember Al Stewart for The Year of the Cat. I never understood why some of his other stuff wasn't a lot more popular than it was (and more popular than that tune). Here's one that I always liked, apropos of this month's book:

    The Last Day of June 1934
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ip5ato4HSY

    September 7, 2012

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  • Sue O
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  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
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