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

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Scribe Publications, 2011 - Diplomats - 448 pages

Erik Larson has been widely acclaimed as a master of narrative non-fiction, and in his new book, the bestselling author of The Devil in the while City turns his hand to a remarkable story set during Hitler's rise to power.

In 1933, a year that would prove to be a turning point in history, William E. Dodd becomes America's first ambassador to Hitler's Germany. He brings his family with him to Berlin, where they experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance, and - ultimately - horror.

The ambassador's daughter is at fist entranced by the pomp and parties, and by the young men with their infectious enthusiasm for the 'New Germany'. As evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, however, Dodd telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. He watched with growing alarm as Jews are attached, the press is censored, and a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler's true character.

Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of historical figures such as Göring and Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognise the grave threat posed by Hitler until Europe was awash in blood and terror.

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