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Americans in Nazi Berlin

  • Apr 4, 2011
Rating:
+4
This is an interesting book that tells of the first FDR ambassador to Nazi Germany and his family as they resided in Berlin in 1933 and after. The ambassador, a former college professor, and his wife and son and daughter move to Berlin and make their way through the Nazi regime. The daughter, particularly, is one of the main focuses of this book. She's in her mid-twenties and somewhat promiscuous, having affairs back in Chicago (possibly with Carl Sandburg and Thornton Wilder) before she left for Germany, and then having multiple affairs once she lived there. These affairs were not only with diplomats of European countries, but also a member of the Soviet embassy and the first head of the Gestapo.

The book shows the gradual awakening of the daughter to the terrors and dangers of the Nazis. She and her family met all of the high-ranking ones, including Hitler himself. Although the ambassador tries to keep the US informed about the dangers of the Nazis to world peace, a cabal of Ivy League State Department types conspired to keep this info down and to paint the ambassador as naive and ineffective.

We get a lot of background into life in Berlin in the `30s and the sheer fright of the people as to what they could do and say without risking their own freedom. Eventually the ambassador is recalled, and replaced by someone more "in tune" with the State Department types. This is a book that is a cautionary tale for living under a dictator, and is an interesting sidelight to knowing something different about the Nazis.

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review by . April 10, 2013
Larson turns his story telling skill to an amazing slice of history from a time most Americans, Germans, and citizens of the world would like to forget.  In 1933, as America was still deep in Depression and Hitler was still consolidating his grip on the throat of civilization, Roosevelt nominated William E. Dodd to serve as the American ambassador to Berlin.  Perhaps no diplomat was ever more poorly matched for his position. A plain speaking and simple living Southern academic (from Clayton, …
review by . June 02, 2011
Larson again brings his special talent for writing an historical account that reads like a novel. Bill Dodd, historian was picked by FDR to fill a position that nobody wanted. That is, become the US ambassador in 1933 Berlin as Hitler was establishing his stronghold on the German government. He went with his wife Martha and his adult daughter (also Martha)and experienced firsthand attacks on Americans and the ever increasing rules that were placed on the German Jews.     His …
review by . May 14, 2011
It is easy to describe Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin as dark and foreboding. It is that. Especially since most people know what happened in 1933 Germany as the rest of the world made no move to alter history. The book weighs upon you. However, Larson does an admirable job of balancing those disturbing events of 1933 with moments of beauty, wonder, and righteousness using pre-war Berlin as a backdrop and using the new American …
review by . March 24, 2011
It has been observed that for evil to win all that needs happen is for good men to do nothing. That was what the United States government did, at least officially, for much of the lead-up to World War II. Too often chances to speak out and try to stop the madness that was engulfing Germany were ignored. Too frequently the atrocities were overlooked. Too many times our response to the crisis over there was nothing, nothing, nothing...    But there were exceptions. George Messersmith, …
About the reviewer
Frank J. Konopka ()
I'm a small town general practice attorney in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. Books are my passion, andI read as many of them asI can. Being the President of the local library board for over … more
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Wiki

Praise for Erik Larson
  
THUNDERSTRUCK
“A ripping yarn of murder and invention.”—Los Angeles Times

“Larson’s gift for rendering an historical era with vibrant tactility and filling it with surprising personalities makesThunderstruckan irresistible tale.”—The Washington Post Book World

“Gripping….An edge-of-the-seat read.”—People
 
DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY
“[Larson] relentlessly fuses history and entertainment to give this nonfiction book the dramatic effect of a novel….a dynamic, enveloping book.”
The New York Times

“A hugely engrossing chronicle of events public and private. Exceedingly well-documented, exhaustive without being excessive, and utterly fascinating.”
Chicago Tribune
 
“An irresistible page-turner that reads like the most compelling, sleep-defying fiction.”—Time Out New York

 ISAAC’S STORM 
“A gripping account…fascinating to its core, and all the more compelling for being true.”—New York Times Book Review

“Superb...Larson has made the Great Hurricane live again.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Gripping….TheJawsof hurricane yarns.”—Newsday

Amazon Best Books of the Month, May 2011:In the Garden of Beastsis a vivid portrait of Berlin during the first years of Hitler’s reign, brought to life through the stories of two people: ...
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Details

ISBN-10: 0307408841
ISBN-13: 978-0307408846
Author: Erik Larson
Genre: History, Nonfiction
Publisher: Crown
First to Review

"The evil that men do"
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