Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the expectedly charming--yet wholly sinister--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. “I was slightly anti-Semitic in this sense: I accepted the attitude that Jews were not as physically attractive as gentiles and were less socially desirable.” Thus spake the “slightly” opinionated Martha, whose remarks were unfailingly inflammatory and who quivered with excitement over the marvels of her new surroundings. Trump is much more analogous to Mussolini. The lessons have to do with the importance of vigilance on the part of we, the governed, to actions and policies that subvert our democratic traditions and the values that undergird and validate our social relationships. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin is a 2011 non-fiction book by Erik Larson. Yes, this was a family that joked excitedly after Hitler had kissed Martha’s hand, advising that she not wash the part that his lips had touched. In the Garden of Beasts came highly recommended with fine words from distinguished American newspapers, it's a New York Times bestseller and has a … This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. “In the Garden of Beasts is a vivid portrait of Berlin during the first years of Hitler’s reign, brought to life through the stories of two people: William E. Dodd, who in 1933 became America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s regime, and his scandalously carefree daughter, Martha. I've seen the book promoted as a retelling of the classic French fairytale Beauty and the Beast and while The Beast's Garden pays homage to the french fairytale, particularly in the references to roses, this novel is based on the Grimm's The Singing, Springing Lark. They failed, notably, to condemn the conspicuous evidence of bigotry and cruelty they could not help but notice on the public streets, before their very eyes. (Hitler felt withering contempt for the ambassador’s party-girl daughter, despite his show of courtliness.) No. “In the Garden of Beasts,” which takes its name from Tiergarten, the park across the street from this residence (though “Animal Garden” is a less lurid translation), would be smugly heavy-handed if it did nothing but emphasize the Dodds’ prejudices and naïveté. The new ambassador was the fuddy-duddy, the man whose favorite way to end an evening was with a glass of milk, a bowl of stewed peaches and a good book. The troubled tenure of an academic US ambassador and his wayward daughter offers a fresh view of … in Book Review. This, then, is the lesson for us today. Their seemingly cavalier and laissez-faire attitudes allowed the Nazis to promulgate their hatred and advance their agenda virtually unrestrained by the international code of diplomatic norms. But she was not the one who had to contend with increasingly violent and random attacks by German storm troopers on American visitors or had to report back to President Roosevelt. As Germany prepared to deprive Jews of their citizenship, Dodd — only slightly less casually disparaging than his daughter — advised the president: “Give men a chance to try their schemes.”. But he was 64, felt morosely elderly and thought that Germany might be a safe, quiet place for him to complete his writing project. Nor are his acolytes, hopefully, the moral equivalent of the likes of Goebbels, Goering and Himmler. Out of self-interest or self-preservation, the majority of Germans failed increasingly to challenge what they knew to be lies and propaganda, and allowed themselves to be swallowed up in a stinking morass of ignorance and barbarity. In the Garden of Beasts Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin Set in Berlin in 1933-1934, the book tells the story of America’s first ambassador to Nazi Germany, William E. Dodd, and his daughter Martha, as they experience the rising terror of Hitler’s rule. Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the expectedly charming--yet wholly sinister--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. 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