“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.
Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America captivated me. I stayed up late reading and then wanted to know more about the subjects. So I’m intrigued by his latest novel, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, due out on May 10th.
The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s 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 suprisingly 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.
I have wondered what it was like to be in Germany at the time right before World War II. How was it that Hitler was able to persuade so many people to do such horrid things? Why didn’t people stop him? The idea of a first person perspective appeals to me. I have a feeling this is going to be another one that I have a hard time putting down. Despite the gruesome subject.