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From the author of the #1 New York Times nonfiction bestseller The Devil in the White City comes the true story of an American father and daughter living in the strange and dark realm of Nazi Berlin during the first year of Hitler’s reign.
“I have always wondered what it would have been like for an outsider to have witnessed firsthand the gathering dark of Hitler’s rule. How did the city look, what did one hear, see, and smell, and how did diplomats and other visitors interpret the events occurring around them? Hindsight tells us that during that fragile time the course of history could so easily have been changed. Why, then, did no one change it? Why did it take so long to recognize the real danger posed by Hitler and his regime?”
—Erik Larson, from IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS
“In this mesmerizing portrait of the Nazi capital, Larson plumbs a far more diabolical urban cauldron than in his bestselling The Devil in the White City . . . a vivid, atmospheric panorama of the Third Reich and its leaders.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred, boxed review)
“Excellent . . . suspenseful, [has] the feel of a John le Carré novel.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A brilliant and often infuriating account of the experiences and evolving attitudes of the Dodd family during Hitler’s critical first year in power. With the benefit of hindsight, of course, the Dodds seem almost criminally ignorant, but Larson treats them with a degree of compassion that elevates them to tragic status.”
—Booklist (starred, boxed review)
“Chillingly portrays the terror and oppression that slowly settle over Germany in 1933.”
Widely acclaimed as the master of page-turning nonfiction sagas, Erik Larson once again brings a past world alive—this time, the ominous and ever-changing realm of Nazi Berlin during Hitler’s first full year as chancellor. With its focus on the experience of an American family suddenly transported to that city, IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS (on sale May 10) presents a fresh and wholly original look at the people, politics, and dazzling social life of Berlin as Hitler inexorably tightened his grip on power.
IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin tells the story of William E. Dodd, a mild-mannered history professor who to everyone’s surprise becomes America’s first ambassador to Nazi Germany, and Dodd’s 24-year-old daughter Martha, a flirtatious and outspoken free spirit who comes along for the adventure. Always up for fun, Martha is at first entranced by the ebullience and optimism of the “New Germany,” as well as the prospect of romance with dangerous figures, including the first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. Far more sober about his own duties, Dodd believes that he might be able to improve the behavior of Hitler’s government through reason and persuasion. But as he and Martha sit at the same outdoor cafes that the black-suited members of Hitler’s SS do, and come to know Goebbels and Göring as social acquaintances with whom they dine, dance, and joke, they also begin to see the menace that underlies the city’s beauty and vibrancy. As evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, Dodd voices his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home and watches with alarm as Jews and American visitors are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. Though Martha is slower to change her opinion, an accumulation of disturbing encounters and events causes her to begin to question her enthusiasm for the Third Reich. As the family’s first year in Berlin reaches its end, Hitler orchestrates a horrific purge to consolidate his power, revealing his true, murderous character to both Dodd and his daughter.
Rich in atmosphere and tautly told, IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS allows us to watch events unfold in real time, and speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.
About the Author
ERIK LARSON is the author of six nonfiction books, including the critically acclaimed New York Times bestsellers Isaac’s Storm, Thunderstruck, and The Devil in the White City, which was a #1 New York Times bestseller in both hardcover and paperback, a nonfiction finalist for the National Book Award, and a winner of the Edgar Award for fact-crime writing. He is a former writer for the Wall Street Journal and Time. Larson lives in Seattle with his wife and three daughters.
IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS:
Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin
by Erik Larson
Crown Publishers • On sale May 10, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-307-40884-6• 464 pages • Price: $26.00
Also available as an eBook and an audiobook