Saturday, December 8, 2012
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
When William Dodd accepted the post of ambassador to Germany in the early 1930's, I'd imagine even his wildest dreams couldn't have envisioned the nightmare that would take root right under his nose. Living and working in the society of Hitler and the upper-crust of his cronies, Dodd and his daughter saw firsthand the events that led to Nazi terror and Hitler's domination in German politics.
Erik Larson does such a great job. His non-fiction reads like fiction and it's easy to forget that this stuff is REAL. Dodd really did talk with Hitler and try to convince America that what was happening in Germany was going to be a major problem. His daughter Martha really did date Nazi bigwigs and his wife hosted parties with diplomats from all over Europe.
Sometimes the foreshadowing annoyed me a little bit but for the most part, I really enjoyed it. Because you know what's going to happen, it's not really a gripping page-turner, but it's a solid piece of writing that feels incredibly well researched. Dodd is a rather frustrating "character," his weaknesses were so apparent, but I also feel like he was handed a disaster that no one person could've prevented. I just wanted to scream at them all, really. It was embarrassing how long it took us to GET it. I know that hindsight makes it all so clear, but so many people in charge of our nation really did have blinders on.
For anyone that is interested in World World II period history, I'd say this book is a must read, it's such a unique perspective and an objective assessment of crucial events.