Latest Reading: “In the Garden of Beasts” by Erik Larson

With the long flights I was able to finish my latest book. It is a historical fiction that focuses on the US Ambassador in Germany during the first several years of Hitler’s term as Chancellor in the early 1930’s. Larson is so good at making history come alive and I couldn’t put the book down. He did so much research and weaved so many facts and actual diary/memoir entries into the narrative that makes it almost read as a non-fiction.

It made me re-think the rise of Hitler and the ordinary German citizen’s role in the rise of the Nazi party and the eventual start of WW II. In hindsight it is easy to criticize how American officials acted, knowing that Hitler eventually would want to wipe out all Jews and take over the world. There were many people that realized this, especially those living in Germany at the time. I loved the book also because it is a book about expat life, and I could easily empathize with Ambassador Dodd having his family overseas. His daughter was quite an item back then, and she dated many of the Nazi officials and even a Soviet spy (all true).

I didn’t realize how much fighting there was within the Nazi party. This was especially true while Hitler was establishing himself and re-arming Germany. Hitler and his inner circle were all a bunch of young (my age) psychopaths leading the country to war. I don’t understand how his view point could be adapted by so many people. The “brown shirts” with their marches, strict laws against the Jews, and his speeches full of rage… There was something obviously off about the guy and I don’t understand how the conditions Germany after World War I, could allow the opportunity for someone like that to come to power.

Many in the government were critical of the US Ambassador, William Dodd. But in hindsight, a policy of appeasement or more neutrality would not have given us any influence on the Nazis. To tie it in with Serbia, this would eventually lead to the April 6, 1941 bombing of the city.

The book is moving up the NY Times Best Seller list and I highly recommend it.

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One thought on “Latest Reading: “In the Garden of Beasts” by Erik Larson

  1. I might have to look into this one! I love historical fiction but haven’t read anything in a while. 🙂 And I love WW2 stuff. And of course the expat life side of it will definitely be hitting home slightly. Thanks, Bill!!!

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