I have yet to read Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, yet as soon as I heard about In the Garden of Beasts, Larson's newest book, I was instantly adding it to my Amazon cart. Lucky for me, I received an ARC of this one, and quickly bumped it up to the top of my TBR pile. In the Garden of Beasts has been the book I was reading while running on the treadmill for the last few weeks. It has been a book that has made me want to exercise and keep on running a few extra miles each time just so I could read more.
Set in Berlin in 1933, William Dodd was appointed the United States Ambassador to Germany- the first US Ambassador during Hitler's rule. He and his wife and adult son and daughter moved to Berlin, unaware of the importance of this particular post at this particular time. His daughter, Martha, was instantly taken with Berlin and defended Hitler's methods. Dodd became aware of difficulties much earlier, but his correspondence to the United States on these matters was basically ignored, and many in the State Department sought to have Dodd removed from his post. In Berlin Dodd and his family met key Nazi officials including Hitler, and attended functions with many of these people. As time progresses it becomes obvious that Hitler must be stopped and hundreds lose their life in one bloody night, finally revealing Hitler's true nature.
Larson's book is an amazing account of a time in in history that is both fascinating and horrifying. I have often wondered what people in the United States thought was going on in Germany during these years, and it was interesting to read about a family with a close-up view of Hitler's plans and their initial ability to ignore or justify his ideas. Larson's book, while very much researched and full of information, reads much like a story and was easy to get into. This book is a must read for anyone especially non-fiction lovers and history lovers.
Check out another review of In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin