In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in
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.
Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with
unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the expectedly
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.
Erik Larson is the author of the national bestsellers
Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City, and Isaac's Storm.