Book Reviews,  Europe,  History,  Memoir/Biography,  Nazis,  NON FICTION,  World War II

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson *** (of 4)

William E. Dodd, an unassuming, dysthymic, history professor at the University of Chicago finds himself America’s ambassador to Berlin in 1933.  President Roosevelt is battling the country’s worst Depression with little time to focus attention on European woes so Dodd arrives in Berlin largely unprepared for the job with his wife, son, and man-hungry, 20-something year-old daughter, Martha.  The family is ridiculed as incompetent outsiders by the old-boy’s network in the U.S. State Department and largely brushed off by German officials.  Martha has relations with Nazis and Russian communists without her father’s awareness.  The increasingly marginalized William Dodd has the last word on his detractors, however.  First hand witness to Hitler’s ruthless rise to power he declares loudly and clearly that the Nazis are a terror to be reckoned with sooner rather than later.  No one listened.