In the Garden of Beasts

In the Garden of Beasts Summary

Erik Larson, New York Times bestselling author of Devil in the White City, delivers a remarkable story set during Hitler’s rise to power.

The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Nazi 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.

Book Reviews


Nazi story brought to life unexpected.5 star

This book takes you back in time to an American family that got involved in Germany during World War II. The book was my first non-fiction that I read in terms of history involving wars. I am mostly a fiction reader and to read a story like this one blew me away. I wasn’t bored nor was I second guessing. The writing was good enough to keep me turning the page. Although I did get characters confused and the plot seemed to jump from one place to the other. I felt like I was an under cover agent in the ranks of the Nazi regime. This book will pull at your heart strings to make you say, “Aw man!” And also say, “No way?!” There were surprises here and there which I will not disclose. How the author described Hitler impressed me and I got to see Hitler for who he was instead of the constant hatred he had for the Jews. When it comes to mentioning the Jews, I think the subject was touched briefly upon. Yes they went through horrific things. To mention that a little bit per chapter kept that sensitivity to the story. I think without mentioning the Jews in this novel it would have read like a documentary. All in all, I recommend this book. If World War II is a touchy subject you don’t like then this isn’t for you. Because this novel takes the touchy subjects head on and morphs it into a story of discovery and self worth.55

The blue dove

Loved it5 star

Well-written and intense55

doyle Blt

In the garden of beasts5 star

An insight into the horrors of man and how such things occured in a modern day society. How the rest of the world as proven in today’s world that such atrocities can continue to go on. A fantastic book that should be read by all!55


Camino island5 star



Not nearly his best work2 star

I'm about halfway through this book and losing interest. I love E.L. And have read both "Dead Wake" and "Devil in the White City". I loved both of those books. This should be a fascinating story of the Nazi rise told through the eyes of American observers. All of the characters and events are there but the story plays slowly and most of it is only mildly interesting. Martha's many lovers grow tiring. Dodd is a disappointed lead character that is unimpressive and hard to feel much for. Later in his life, he ran over a child by accident causing severe injury and immediately fled the scene. This gives you insight into the fortitude of his character. Perhaps another American character would have had a more compelling story. Disappointed.25


Could not put it down.5 star

I don't generally read books about WWll but this is after all Erik Larson. I have never been disappointed by his work and after reading "In The Garden of Beasts" I am glad to say that it delivered everything I have come to expect from this author. The level of research is extraordinary in this oh so readable book. Mr. Larson is a storyteller of the highest caliber. His characters are so well developed you feel like you were there at these pivotal points of history. Fair warning, once you pick this book up you may find you can't put it down.55


Interesting read4 star

I thought this was well done. It does get a bit dry at times and the author seems to keep things going often by revealing the details of Martha's romantic life which are sultry but become a little boring after a while. Still, the author's gift for writing is evident throughout and I found his viewpoint on the Nazis very grounded and refreshing. Any history buff should love this one.45


Not a good read1 star

Not a good story. Not interesting.15

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Zoom engsbeld5 star



Good read5 star


Other Books by Erik Larson

The Devil in the White City


The Devil in the White City
4.5     1807
Dead Wake


Dead Wake
4.5     1093
The Splendid and the Vile


The Splendid and the Vile
4.5     1212

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