Book Review: In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson - More2Read

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

This story covers the Dodd family and their lives amongst the beast machine of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Roosevelt asked Dodd to become the American ambassador to Hitler’s Germany. At that time Germany was in debt to America and owed loads of money and they looked like they were not going to pay so the need for the ambassador arose. Dodd and his wife agreed to the position and so they left for Berlin, he also invited his two grown children Martha and Bill. The lovely Martha appears in the story quite a bit as in the backdrop Hitlers rises to power and his evil spreads we follow her and her relationship with a communist Russian. Martha when she arrived in Berlin found she liked Germany and the people and commented them as being better than the Parisian, obviously this was before Hitler showed his face and colors of evil and his propaganda was widespread. Germany wanted this image wanted Americans to warm to them but as the garden was perceived to be nice the beasts were slowly going about their Arian work, as the stormtroopers developed unknown to the visitors eye a rage and a pot was brewing of turmoil and fascism. The rest is history the persecutions of Jews and all non Arian is well documented the author is trying to give us an pigeon hole on how it was for this family amongst the turmoil and documents the ambassadors interactions with Hitler’s Germany. The ambassador was called eventually to Hitlers office and warned in person by Hitler that he was unhappy with Americas media view of him. The story became at times too fact based but is not an easy subject to write about he has successfully not made it solely just about the evil but also about the human struggles.

On looking for photo of Dodd I came across this interesting info.

” Evidence of continued efforts by powerful U.S. fascists to regain control of the White House is illustrated by a 1936 statement by William Dodd, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany. In a letter to Roosevelt, he stated:
“A clique of U.S. industrialists is hell-bent to bring a fascist state to supplant our democratic government and is working closely with the fascist regime in Germany and Italy. I have had plenty of opportunity in my post in Berlin to witness how close some of our American ruling families are to the Nazi regime…. A prominent executive of one of the largest corporations, told me point blank that he would be ready to take definite action to bring fascism into America if President Roosevelt continued his progressive policies. Certain American industrialists had a great deal to do with bringing fascist regimes into being in both Germany and Italy. They extended aid to help Fascism occupy the seat of power, and they are helping to keep it there. Propagandists for fascist groups try to dismiss the fascist scare. We should be aware of the symptoms. When industrialists ignore laws designed for social and economic progress they will seek recourse to a fascist state when the institutions of our government compel them to comply with the provisions.”




Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 28 July 2011

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    William Dodd: The U.S. Ambassador In Hitler's Berlin by npr books