In The Garden Of Beasts by Erik Larson

77%

31 Critic Reviews

. . .a vivid, atmospheric panorama of the Third Reich and its leaders. . .
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

Erik Larson, New York Times bestselling author of Devil in the White City, delivers a remarkable story set during Hitler’s rise to power.

The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Nazi Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.
    A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another, including with the suprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance—and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition.
    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. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that 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 Erik Larson

See more books from this Author
ERIK LARSON is the author of the national bestsellers Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City, and Isaac's Storm. ErikLarsonBooks.com
 
Published May 10, 2011 by Broadway Books. 466 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, War. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Jun 05 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for In The Garden Of Beasts
All: 31 | Positive: 23 | Negative: 8

Kirkus

Excellent
Apr 15 2011

An excellent study, taking a tiny instant of modern history and giving it specific weight, depth and meaning.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Dorothy Gallagher on Jun 10 2011

. . .Larson has connected the dots to make a fresh picture of these terrible events.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on May 19 2011

. . .powerful, poignant historical narrative. . .

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
Mar 21 2011

. . .a vivid, atmospheric panorama of the Third Reich and its leaders. . .

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Financial Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Roger Moorhouse on Jul 22 2011

. . .it brings a fresh perspective to a familiar subject and makes a genuine contribution to our understanding.

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Star Tribune

Excellent
Reviewed by Mark Kramer on Jun 18 2011

It’s a bigger book than his other good books, and a crucial anatomy for us to comprehend.

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Washington Times

Good
Reviewed by Sandra McElwaine on Jul 15 2011

It is a compelling read. The ominous title refers to Berlin’s Central Park, the Tiergarten, which means “animal garden,” and hearkens back to the days when it served as a royal hunting preserve...This is a cautionary tale not to be missed.

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Globe and Mail

Excellent
Reviewed by Martin Levin on Jun 10 2011

Larson is superb at creating a you-are-there sense of time and place.

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AV Club

Below average
Reviewed by Samantha Nelson on Jun 02 2011

In spite of Larson’s best efforts, Dodd and Martha don’t make particularly compelling protagonists.

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Jeff Bailey on Jun 20 2011

Erik Larson, author of "The Devil in the White City," finds a terrific storytelling vehicle. . .

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The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Philip Kerr on May 13 2011

. . .while I was reading it there were several occasions on which I had to stop and check to make sure it really was a work of nonfiction.

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The Telegraph

Below average
Reviewed by Nigel Jones on Jul 11 2011

Larson’s indulgence towards this woman – as unpleasantly selfish personally as she was irresponsibly stupid politically – is the worst of his flaws.

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Christian Science Monitor

Excellent
Reviewed by Erik Spanberg on Jun 06 2011

. . .thanks to Larson, Dodd’s courage and foresight live on, a welcome new chapter in the vast canon of World War II.

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USA Today

Excellent
Reviewed by Deirdre Donahue on May 23 2011

Most of all, Larson captures how Martha, most Germans and the rest of world simply couldn't believe what was happening until it was too late.

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Dallas News

Excellent
Reviewed by Joy Tipping on May 16 2011

It’s easily as good as his 2003 best-seller The Devil in the White City, unveiling little-known people and facts and flawlessly spinning them into a larger web.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Martin Deshmukh

That we know the end of the story does not in any way diminish this fascinating and gripping account.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Below average
Reviewed by Glenn Altschuler on May 15 2011

. . .more puzzling is Larson's characterization of Martha, Dodd's daughter, who gets too much attention in this book, as "a woman of principle."

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Oregon Live

Excellent
Reviewed by Katherine Dunn on May 14 2011

Larson's fastidious scholarship provides the appropriate gravity to this subject.

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Below average
Reviewed by Katherine Powers on May 11 2011

. . .Larson tries to give novelistic flair to an historical account. I can't say that it is successful.

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The Daily Beast

Below average
Reviewed by Zachary Shore on May 27 2011

Larson peeks into a cauldron of brewing questions, yet backs away without letting us look inside.

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Huntington News

Excellent
Reviewed by David Kinchen on Nov 11 2011

Much of the book by an acclaimed master of the nonfiction narrative genre . . .deals with Ambassador William E. Dodd's free-spirited and flamboyant beyond belief daughter Martha. . .

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The National

Below average
Reviewed by Laura Collins on Jun 17 2011

. . .it lacks the balance of Larson's previous works as the reader falls out of sympathy with the protagonists.

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St. Louis Today

Excellent
Reviewed by Roger Miller on May 08 2011

. . .what he has produced is both believable and satisfying.

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Cleveland.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Nancy Connors on May 31 2011

Larson's strengths as a storyteller have never been stronger than they are here. . .

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Chicago Sun Times

Excellent
Reviewed by John Barron on May 05 2011

Larson. . .has struck pay dirt again with this little-known story. . .

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The Seattle Times

Excellent
Reviewed by MaryAnn Gwinn on May 07 2012

As a suspense narrative, "Beast" achieves mixed results. . . But as a work of popular history, "Beasts" is gripping. . .

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ABC Perth

Below average
Reviewed by Rob Minshull on Jun 16 2011

. . .ultimately reads as more like Sidney Sheldon suspence than a serious study of our recent and tragic past.

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Brevity Magazine

Excellent
Reviewed by AM Horowitz on Apr 26 2012

. . .he leaves his reader fully immersed in the world he captures.

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American Diplomacy

Below average
Reviewed by Michael Butler

Larson dwells on Dodd’s tragedy while downplaying his children’s treachery.

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Luxury Reading

Good
Reviewed by Luxury Reading on Nov 13 2011

The time and research that Erik Larson put into In the Garden of Beasts makes it worth reading as the story he tells is fascinating and horrifying at the same time.

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Knitting and Sundries

Good
Reviewed by Julie on Sep 10 2011

Erik Larson has done it again - taken a slice of our collective history and served it up in an eminently readable fashion.

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