What I’m Reading – In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

Hitler is starting to come to power, and the US needs a new Ambassador to Germany. Roosevelt is turned down by several men, then finally asks a professor from Chicago, William Dodd. Though Dodd isn’t all that interested or ambitious, he feels a patriotic duty to fulfill the president’s wishes.

He moves his family over to Germany with high hopes that it will be like when he spent a year abroad there in college. It isn’t. The German government is full of men pitting themselves against others, secrets are the norm, and the citizens are mostly ignorant of what is really happening.

Dodd tries to use diplomacy to talk sense into others, but it doesn’t work. Meanwhile, his American coworkers feel he isn’t ‘one of the boys’ and start plotting against him. And to add to his troubles, his daughter is running around town partying and have ‘friendships’ that are deemed inappropriate.

I knew very little about this period before I started this book. I found it very interesting, especially getting a little bit more about the personalities of higher level Nazis whose names I did know. The in-fighting both in Germany and America was also compelling. Especially in light of today’s non-civil discourse in American politics.

I did however get a little weary of the ‘unbeknownst to Dodd…’ sections as there were plenty. Obviously, Dodd didn’t have the advantage of hindsight. We didn’t need constant reminding.

I did enjoy his ‘Devil in the White City,’and like it, In the Garden of Beasts was very interesting, full of LOTS of information, and a tad heavy so I didn’t tear through it quickly.

3 out of 5 stars

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