Wednesday, February 8, 2012

If you haven't read "In the Garden of Beasts - Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin" by Erik Larson

you should.

I thoroughly enjoyed Larson's book "The Devil in White City", but this book is absolutely mesmerizing.   Larson does his best to write the book as though he were actually seeing these events through the eyes of the real life characters and, like them,  doesn't know any outcomes.  Not an easy task, but he manages to do it masterfully.

I have not been able to keep from comparing many of the incidents in this book with the way some events are unfolding today.  It's made me wonder if Hitler would have succeeded if the world had the internet when he was coming to power.  Somehow, I doubt it.

This book is so good that I've put it on my "purchase list" from Amazon.

From Amazon:
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 surprisingly 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.

Dodd family arriving in Germany
Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the unexpectedly charming--yet wholly sinister--Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.

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