In 1933 President Roosevelt sent William Dodd to Germany as the new American Ambassador. This was Dodd’s first diplomatic post and he entered Berlin intent on furthering American interests in Germany, the most important being full repayment of loans to American creditors. The Dodd family was quickly swept up in the excitement of the Nazi revolution and refused to believe the stories of violence against Jews and foreign nationals being reported in the American press. As the Ambassador tries to push for moderate attitudes at home, his daughter Martha’s scandalous social life begins to raise eyebrows at the State Department. Outrageous by nature, Martha’s romantic trysts include Nazi officials and Soviet agents. Among her friends are Jewish dissidents, exiled writers, and international diplomats. The situation begins to sour for the Dodds as the uglier side of Nazi Germany pushes through the peaceful veneer the party displays to the world. Jews are forced out of their jobs, Americans are beaten in the street for refusing the salute the SS, and armament is increasing at an alarming rate. The Dodds finally see the true nature of Hitler and his Nazi party.
To anyone who has wondered how the world failed to see what horror the Nazis were capable of inflicting, this book is an eye opener. Writing in a narrative fashion, Larson grippingly lays out all of the forces at play at this critical time and the difficulties of maintaining a peaceful Europe. Amidst all of the world affairs, we see through first hand accounts the terrible effect the Nazi regime and international ambivalence had on an American family and the people in their lives.
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin can be borrowed from the media center.