In the Garden of Beasts: Book Review

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A True Story of the Lives of an American Family in Berlin Before World War II.

In-the-garden-of-beasts“In The Garden Of Beasts” is a dramatic historical novel, beginning in the early 1930s and covering the era of World War II. Our United States Ambassador to Germany, William E. Dodd, in the years between 1933 and 1937, repeatedly warns both German and American authorities about the widespread brutality, hate and corruption throughout Germany.

His warnings are pushed aside, because it is easier to placate the tyrannical Adolph Hitler and tolerate his rise to power, than to remove him from public office. As for the German citizens, the economy is finally on the rise for their country, after a devastating loss in the previous World War. Germans prefer to deal with anything criticizing the current administration with the typical “pretend it doesn’t exist” approach, so that they aren’t accused of standing in the way of prosperity.

Plus, in their hearts they know if they stand against Hitler, it is tantamount to a death sentence. What is not clear to them is that the more power that is given to Hitler, the more he demands; a lesson that will be learned in the future, the hard way.


The Streets of Nuremberg. Germany in the time of the Nazis.


The Beginning of Terror

A story of danger, excitement, and love even in the time of terror. Erik Larson, author of “In The Garden of Beasts” takes us into the middle of the turbulent, exciting, deceptive world of Berlin, Germany during the pre-World War II years of the 1930s. Historical characters play the major roles in this book, and the story is true. Only certain conversations were not documented, but were known to have occurred due to the events that followed. The United States Ambassador, William E. Dodd and his wife Mattie, daughter Martha, and son, William Jr., are a family living on a college professor’s salary. When appointed to the position of the first Ambassador to Nazi Germany, Dodd is at first gladdened, thinking the Third Reich is a good thing for the country.

At first the family members were dazzled by the pomp, ceremony and regimentation of the Nazi party, not knowing the evil that lay behind it. As the months progress, Nazi brutality begins to be more open and common place, and they begin to see behind the facade of their well-mannered “hosts.” How they managed to tread carefully in the tense environment of Germany’s prelude to World War II, until they can manage to leave the country is a “must read” for those interested in history and specifically World War II.

Reads like an elegant thriller…utterly compelling… marvelous stuff. An excellent and entertaining book that deserves to be a bestseller, and probably will be.
Washington Post Review

In The Garden Of Beasts

The book is available in Kindle, Hardback, Paperback and Audio CD editions. It’s an accurate time table of the events leading up to WWII, but more than that it shows the behind-the-scenes events that began the horrendous Nazi regime’s rise to power, and the reasons they were never challenged until it was far too late. The book puts you at the center of the conflict from the beginning, as you are, along with the American Ambassador, In The Garden of Beasts.

“You cannot expect world opinion of your conduct to moderate, so long as eminent leaders like Hitler and Goebbels announce from platforms, as in Nuremberg, that all Jews must be wiped off the earth.”
William E. Dodd,U.S. Ambassador to Germany

The Author, Erik Larson


Larson is a prolific writer, having written for numerous national publications such as Time and The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly and Harper’s. He has published numerous best sellers, and with all that, he’s found time to teach non-fiction writing at San Francisco State University, the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars and the University of Oregon. To top it off, he also is a public speaker.

In The Garden of Beasts and Other Books you may like:







Nancy Hardin is a highly experienced writer and author. A retired journalist, she is also a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother with a wealth of experience in many fields. In addition, she is a retiree veteran, having spent many years in the Women’s Army Corps. She is also an experienced ghostwriter and you can see more about her skills at the The Writers’Door. YOu can visit Nancy’s website here and discover more of her work at this site.

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Author: Jackie Jackson

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1 Comment

  1. Sounds like a great book. I’ll need to add it to my “to read” list. I am not familiar at all with Larson (I have to admit it’s the first time I hear of him). Thanks for sharing.

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