Erik Larson’s  narrative history is  set in Berlin in 1933 and  is told  through the eyes of a visiting American family. Not just any family, but Ambassador Dodd and his wife and two children. The ambassador was a Professor of History from the University of Chicago who was soon called “an old fuddy duddy” because he would rather read than go to the numerous embassy parties.  Martha, his grown daughter  is quite a flirt and has rather an extensive love life with Americans, Germans, and Russians during her time in Berlin.

The insidious slow gathering away of freedoms by Hitler and his men eventually  turned into the gathering of horror of the Third Reich. People were executed for improper salutes, and some just disappeared. SA ( Storm Troopers) encouraged neighbors to denounce neighbors, Jews were banned from government jobs, then restricted from jobs as doctors and lawyers.

Even Dr. Dodd as a respected historian was unable to see that something really insidious was right around the corner for  Germany and the world. Maybe it was a blind eye or a reluctant eye . At first he  thought rumors of German brutality and horror were exaggerations at worst and untrue at best. But slowly he discovered the rumors were not rumors at all. He became convinced that Hitler was not only bad for Germany, but bad for the world.

“Beneath the surface, however, Germany had undergone a rapid and sweeping revolution that reached deep into the fabric of daily life. It occurred quietly and largely out of easy view.” Larson

The reader is included in the “Night of Long Knives” where over 85 people are slaughtered  as Hitler’s Gestapo and SS moved against the SA and it’s leader Rohn.

“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, then, did it take so long to recognize the real danger and evil posed by Hitler and his regime?”  Larson

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

“There were too few good men. Too few listened or spoke as Hitler slowly reduced rights and freedoms one by one across Germany. No one acted, and suddenly it was too late.”   Lita Perna

A film starring Tom Hanks and Natalie Portman is scheduled for release in 2014.

natalie-portman-c-helga-esteb-shutterstock-in-the-garden-of-beasts NEdDbkS7s4kfgd_1_1

About annetbell

I am a retired elementary teacher, well seasoned world traveler,new blogger, grandmother, and a new enthusiastic discoverer of the wonderfully complex country of India. Anne
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6 Responses to IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS by Erick Larson

  1. Clanmother says:

    Enjoyed the book immensely!!


  2. I have yet to read the book. Looks like a very nice book. Thanks.


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