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Erik Larson Wows Me With “In The Garden Of Beasts”

July 5, 2013

This winter I read and talked about one book more than any other, and that is saying far more than the printed words here might lead my readers to understand.


Erik Larson is a favorite here at CP, and for good reason.  He knows how to research, and write a narrative that carries the reader from early evening into the very late night hours.  Larson informs and entertains as the pages turn and my only regret with this book is that there was a last page.

The book is set in Germany in the 1930s as Hitler consolidates his power.  Among the main players in the book is Martha Dodd, a tartish and flirty woman who also is the daughter of the new American ambassador.   Her father  was a University of Chicago history professor who had lived in Germany, and will come to see the danger Hitler posed.  Trying to alert the disbelieving State Department to the danger of the Nazi menace will prove to be his hardest task.  His second task, had he been more alert would have been to better inform his daughter about those trying to recruit her as a Soviet agent.

We all know how history plays out with the various nations and cast of characters the Larson brings back to life in this dramatic read.  But the great talent that Larson weaves in the pages is the ‘here and now’ feelings of those who lived at that time, but knew not what the future held.

No matter what else I read this year In The Garden Of Beasts will rank near the very top of the list.

One Comment
  1. Charles Bieser permalink
    July 5, 2013 6:44 PM

    Another in the same vein is Hitlerland by Andrew Nagorski. Very readable. Highly recommended.

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