Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin By Erik Larson
What this book is about: The rise of Nazi Germany as told through the story of U.S. ambassador to Germany, William E. Dodd, and his family in the early to mid-1930s. Dodd was an unlikely choice, but FDR was desperate after being turned down by many who saw the festering caldron in Germany destined for diplomatic failure. A mild-mannered history professor and expert on the American old South, Dodd was at first reluctant but unable to say “no” to the President. So he set off with his wife and two adult children, suspecting that the press reports of repression, random violence and state-sanctioned murder were surely exaggerated. What he found was a government filled with egomaniacal sociopaths taking one of the largest, most advanced countries in the world down a one-way path to destruction at the cost of millions of lives.
But In the Garden of the Beasts isn’t strictly about politics gone bad. It’s also a story of love gone bad starring Dodd’s beautiful, charismatic, sexually charged daughter Martha, who sets out to seduce the eligible and not-so-eligible men of Berlin. Fascists and communists, Nazis and Russians, she was an equal opportunity seductress. What could be more fun than a book about politics and sex? Unfortunately, this one is also set against a backdrop of murder and brutality--true, historical murder and brutality that would only grow worse for another 10 years.
Why you should read this book:
It will help you realize that there’s no adequate answer to the question of how Hitler and the Nazis could have happened.
It's as lewd as Fifty Shades of Grey (OK, maybe not quite as lewd), but people will think you’re a big brain when they see you reading it.
It tells the story of Martha’s arranged meeting with Hitler because he “needs a woman.”
You'll gain a greater understanding of why the U.S. was slow to react to the Nazis.
You'll better understand how far we’ve come relative to prejudice, but how far we still have to go.
Must-Read Scale—Non-Fiction 5=Highest Value; 0=Lowest Value