In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What an amazing true story, brought to life by Erik Larson, based on the journals written by the US Ambassador to Germany, William E. Dodd, and his daughter, Martha Dodd. What a strange time it was for them, heading to Germany on the brink of the second world war. William, never a fan of the Nazis, was forced to entertain them in his home. A simple man, Dodd never seems to adjust to what is meant to be an ambassador's lifestyle, constantly battling both the German locals and members of his own embassy.
Martha, a young and impressionable woman, falls in love with several of the men whose lives intertwine hers, from Germans, other diplomats all the way to a Russian spy.
Ambassador Dodd also brought his wife and son, but you do not get to know much about them, presumably they did not write as many letters or keep as detailed of a journal to gather information from.
This is a wonderful book that takes you to Germany as it was on the cusp of war, showing you how human everyone really was, and how vile others were at the same time.
Lest we forget, even some Americans sided with the general principles of the Nazi party, which made it difficult for those back home (and even for the Dodds) to believe the cruelty that was happening right under our noses.
Thanks to Martha's many associations, the book also gives us a detailed look at high ranking officials in the German government.
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