As there are countless publications on the subject of World War II, I thought this book offered a unique perspective. We view Germany’s political changes through the eyes of an ordinary man, one who also happens to be America’s ambassador to Germany. The naive mentality with which he assumes this role during this time, is mirrored by the U.S. government; a mentality that willfully refused to discern and anticipate the cause and effects of Hitler’s regime. Full of facts from letters, diaries and the like, this is a well told story that will provide additional insight for even the adept World War II reader.
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 surprisingly 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.
The Ambassador’s daughter has countless affairs, often several at the same time and a few before her divorce was finalized. When a good friend of Hitler’s asked her if she would go on a date with Hitler if he arranged it, she said yes and went.
Chapter 13: Contains a bit of description, and includes such sentences as: “Outwardly she looked the part of a young American virgin, but she knew s*x and liked it.” and a lover said that she was “like a butterfly hovering around my p*n*s.” The entire chapter can be skipped as no important information is contained within it.
Chapter 25: In the second to last paragraph, it explains that Martha and Boris would often go on drives together, with Boris’s “right arm over her shoulder, his hand cupping her br**st, as was often his custom.”
Chapter 27: On page 198, in the first paragraph, Martha calls a lady a b*tch.