Thursday, July 28, 2011
IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS
by Erik Larson
is a non-fiction that reads like a thriller.
One of the author's aim in writing the book was
to give a sense of what daily life was like
in Berlin just after Hitler's assumption of power.
In 1933, William Dodd, a history professor at
the University of Chicago,
was interested in a government position
which would give him time for writing.
President Roosevelt was having a difficult time filling
the position of ambassardor to Germany.
Others were hesitant to take the position because
Hitler was somewhat of an unknown entity,
the "Jewish question" in Germany was just rearing its head,
and most powers in the U.S. were more concerned with
Germany's debt than current politics.
So, although not Roosevelt's first choice,
Dodd became the unlikely statesman.
Viewing the job as a big adventure,
Dodd goes to Berlin with his wife and
two grown children in tow.
The book is Dodd and daughter, Martha's story.
Martha, an aspiring writer, but better
suited as a party girl, was soon caught up in
Berlin's social scene.
Early on she is quite enamored with the Nazis.
However, as more and more laws are passed
restricting the freedoms of Jews,
the true stituation slowly becomes evident.
I have always questioned in my mind,
"How did normal German people let this happen?"
Although I wholeheartedly recommend this book,
it really didn't fullly answer the question for me.
Somewhat in the same vein, (except Paris rather than Berlin)
I want to mention SARA'S KEY by Tatiana de Rosnay.
I read this book a couple of years ago, but I just saw
a movie trailer for it this past weekend.
I didn't even know it was being made into a movie.
This is such an engrossing story that I still think about it.
It is NOT an easy, light or "beach read,"
but well worth the effort.
And finally, (my mind is really working in circles tonight),
if you're one of the two or three people who haven't yet
read THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett, (a first novel!!!)
GO GET IT!!!
It's a wonderful read, and
the movie is just about to come out for it too.