It was 1933. William E. Dodd was appointed by then US President Franklin Roosevelt to be the country’s ambassador to Germany. When he entered Berlin, the seat of its assignment, he already foresaw that this country is on a brink of authoritarian regime led by Adolf Hitler. The book is based on letters, journal write ups, and memos from that era that was well-research by its compelling author, Erik Larson.
As Janet Maslin of The New York Times describe it:
“In the Garden of Beasts” has the clarity of purpose to see the Germany of 1933 through the eyes of this uniquely well-positioned American family. There are hindsight-laden books that see the rise of Hitler as a parade of telltale signs. There are individual accounts that personalize the atmosphere of mounting oppression and terror. But there has been nothing quite like Mr. Larson’s story of the four Dodds, characters straight out of a 1930s family drama, transporting their shortcomings to a new world full of nasty surprises.”
The book was already chosen by Tom Hanks for a film adaptation. One of 2011’s best historical non-fiction.