Customer Reviews for

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

161 out of 166 people found this review helpful.

powerful book

This is the newest book by the author who wrote The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. If you are a history aficionado like me, especially if you are intrigued by Germany during the time of the Third Reich, then this is...
This is the newest book by the author who wrote The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. If you are a history aficionado like me, especially if you are intrigued by Germany during the time of the Third Reich, then this is the book for you. Through the eyes of the American ambassador to Berlin and his adult daughter, Mr. Larson shows in stunning fashion how the world was determined to ignore the warning signs, and thus the true intent of Hitler and the Nazi regime in Germany, until it was too late. This book certainly told a powerful tale. I am giving this one 5 stars, not because I loved the story, but because it made an impact on me and I will continue to think of it for quite a while.

posted by lsmeadows on May 2, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

146 out of 459 people found this review helpful.

BOYCOTT THIS PRICE!!!

Everyone, please start boycotting the prices greedy bookstores and greedier publishers are charging for nookbooks. B&N told me when I bought my nook last year that e-book prices would be much cheaper. This store needs to stand by what it advertised a year ago.

posted by Bandito on May 3, 2011

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  • Posted October 15, 2011

    Very Disappointing! The Trifles of Diplomatic Life

    I'm honestly baffled by the positive reviews for "In The Garden of Beasts," a work that is nearly unreadable as a narrative history. I can only assume that Larson's readers remember the adventures and high drama of "Devil in the White City," a work of deserved praise. After a laborious three hundred pages of diplomatic dinners, infantile liaisons, minor diplomatic spats and walks along the Tiergarden, I was ready to consign Mr. Larson's recent work to the donation bin.

    Larson's protagonists, William E. Dodd, the first American ambassador to Nazi Germany, and his family (notably the vapid and promiscuous Martha, his daughter) are the epitome of American policy (and to a certain extent public opinion) as a whole toward the newly-born Nazi government; impotent, grossly naive and ill-prepared. Though Larson wants to draw this parallel, he fails to mention any detailed information regarding American views toward Germany, Hitler or the Nazi regime, with the exception of the American Jewish Congress. It's hard to decide whether Larson wants us to sympathize with Dodd or castigate him for behaving like a stubborn tenured professor. Dodd comes off as a dullard and, frankly anti-Semitic.

    Larson's failure to expound on the history of the Nazi party and several of the high ranking officials, relegating these figures to side-show status does the reader a great dis-service. His cliff notes version of the Nazi leadership is pathetic an lazy. When you compare this to the details regarding Martha Dodd's affairs and paramours, Larson insults the learned reader and indulges the tawdry side of this flawed history. Why quote or reference Shirer, when you have Mosse or Bullock? Why amble on and on about that love triangle between Martha, Biels and Boris, when you can actually quote from German newspapers reacting to Hitler's policies? This is a cheap history written for an ill-informed American audience.

    By the way......stop complaining about the price of "NOOK" books! You knew this was going to happen! Books need creative talent, time and research to complete. This is not the dollar store...If you would like, go down to your local INDEPENDENT bookstore and by it from them...its the same price.

    9 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2011

    Sorry Erik You Struck Out On This One

    His previous books were so well written and the stories so well constructed that when this was offered on pre-order I immediately did so.But I was very disappointed in what I got: a soap opera with Nazis occasionally showing up at the never ending embassy parties causing "tension in the air". Good grief, what a bore this was! I have to agree with other reviewers (The Dodds Do Berlin","Not Engaging", and " Not Worth The Money") and I only give this one star because the cover was kind of cool.Buy it only if you're having problems getting to sleep at night. Loved " Thunderstruck", "Devil in the White City", and "Isaac's Storm" so three home runs in four at bats is still Hall of Fame stuff. But I probably will not pre-order the next one.Keep swinging Erik.

    8 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2011

    Disappointed - did not live up to promises

    Unlike so many others, I was not upset about the price...

    Had I not been between semesters with abundant free time, I would not have elected to even finish this book. The story lacked flow and, at times, was almost unreadable. This is from such a fascinating time in history and had so much potential to tell the story of a truly unforgettable and bizarre time in European and American history but fell short. I never felt a connection to the people in the story Larson was sharing. For a book about such an emotional time in history, there was little emotion within the text. The rave reviews and rankings within "must read" lists may have raised my expectations higher than anticipated.
    I have not read any of the other books of Mr. Larson's that also received such high praise (as indicated on the book jacket). Unfortunately, my disappointment with this book will bias me against other critically acclaimed books as well as Mr. Larson's past and future works.

    7 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2011

    Not worth the money

    Like a lot of things I have read lately this should have been a magazine article, not a book.
    The Dodds are not that interesting. The father seems to be a border line anti-semite himself, and the daughter was a shallow, somewhat round-heeled opportunist.
    There wasn't enough material here for a book and I wish I had saved my money.

    5 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    Totally disappointed!

    After White City / and Isaac's Storm, I expected better than this.
    In my opinion the characters were flat and boring. I didn't care what the ambassador's daughter was doing, and so much of the book was devoted to her romances, just boring!

    This could have been a fantastic look at Germany pre-World War II but it turned out flat as a pancake. Too bad.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 1, 2013

    dull - who cares about this family? 

    dull - who cares about this family? 

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2012

    Couldn't finish

    You better care about Hitler's rise to power and pre-WWII Germany or (like me) you won't be able to finish.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2012

    Save your money

    Although many find this book a literary work of art, I am not in that camp. Very dry, much too long and drawn out, very much a disappointment. Larson expands upon the tiniest of details in an attempt to make a rather boring family and interesting one. How many times can Larson write about Dodd's complaints that his coworkers telegraphs were too long or that this guy spent too much money on a party or that his daughter had bedded yet another boring, mid-level official of some oddball agency.
    If you like dry stories about mundane tasks and a story that has no action, drama, suspense or plot, this is the book for you.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2011

    Just boring

    Seldom do I give up on a book but life is too short to try to endure this. I read for entertainment. This is definitely not entertaining.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2011

    Very Disappointing

    How this book stays on any best selling list is beyond me.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 20, 2011

    Couldn't finish

    I started this book with high hopes, but did not even get halfway thru it. I just could not work up any interest in Dodd and family. There are lots more books written about this era that are much more interesting. Like one reviewer, I simply do not understand this book being on NY Times best seller list or the rave reviews. Must be because of author's history, NOT this book. Evidently they didn't read it.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2011

    Waste of TIME

    BORING Book.... long story short... Dodd wastes his time in Germany... his daugther is a whore and the book is WAY over priced. The end.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2011

    In the Garden of Beasts - A Disappointment

    I bought this book because it was advertised as a "thriller". It is far from any thriller I have ever read. The Dodd family was never in any danger, except for his career, during the rise of Adolf Hitler. Even with the adventures of his daughter and her random choice of lovers, she was never in danger either. It is full of history, but I was looking for the historical info as a backdrop to a compelling story. I would not recommend this book, especially at the price. It should be in the $.99 catagory.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2011

    Too expensive for an eBook!

    Would love to read the book, but at this price I'll have to pass and wait for it to become available in the library. There is no justification for a price like this for an eBook. There is no material, no ware-housing, and no shipping costs. Boycott these prices until they return to normal!!

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 10, 2011

    Total waste of time

    Do not waste your time on this so called look inside the early years of the Hitler era. If you are interested in the story of an ineffective, bookish ambassador with aspirations to be a great writer, then go ahead. The majority of the book was wasted on the story lines of Dodd's whining about the roles of ambassadorship and the promiscuity of his naive, silly little daughter. I would estimate only 10% of this book was actually about the rise of Hitler and the rest was drivel. I was sadly disappointed.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted May 30, 2011

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    Posted November 22, 2012

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    Posted July 4, 2011

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    Posted May 30, 2011

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    Posted June 3, 2011

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