I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Thursday, April 7, 2016

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson

This book, by the author of Devil in the White City about the making of the Chicago World's Fair and the serial killer hidden beneath in 1893 (which is a most excellent book), has written a book about a poor professor called the Cassandra of the Embassy for trying to tell President Roosevelt what Hitler was doing and that America needed to do something about it.  William E. Dodd, from Chicago, became an unlikely Ambassador to Germany in 1933, a very important year in German history, as it is the year that Hitler begins his rise to power.  Most Ambassadors were independently wealthy and spent lavishly on their lifestyles and parties at their homes.  Dodd believed in living within the means he was being paid (around $17, 000) to rent a house and hold important parties.  Dodd had spent some time in Germany in his youth and was surprised to see how it was changing.  As Hitler gained more power even Americans were being attacked in Germany and Dodd was helpless to do anything about it, though he tried his best.  The government just wanted him to get Germany to pay the banks they owed for reparations during World War I.

This book is also about Dodd's daughter Martha, who was to put it bluntly, kind of a slut.  She slept around with different men from the Nazi party and others including Rudolf Diels, the head of the Gestapo, who is surprisingly honorable and has many close calls to getting himself killed by the Nazi Party.  Goring couldn't stand him.  She also had a love affair with a Russian KGB agent who was trying to recruit her to be a spy.  Martha was dazzled by the Nazi Party and all they had done to Germany to bring it back from the brink of despair.  For a long time she ignored all that that they were doing, even when she witnessed an attack on some Americans herself. 

This book which takes place between 1933-34, gives a rare account, from Dodd's own diaries and other sources, into what was really going on in Germany and how maybe America could have done something to stop the following events from happening if they had just done something early. 

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Beasts-Terror-American-Hitlers/dp/030740885X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460062188&sr=1-1&keywords=beasts+in+the+garden

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