Bowdoin Reads

Professor Baumgarte is reading...

In the Garden of Beasts
by Erik Larson

Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts was recommended to me -- strongly recommended -- by Prof. Levine. I tremendously enjoyed reading the book, and now I'll pass his recommendation on to you. In the Garden of Beasts tells the story of William E. Dodd, a somewhat disillusioned history professor at the University of Chicago, who, through a sequence of unlikely circumstances, becomes President Roosevelt's first Ambassador to Germany. He and his family arrive in Berlin shortly after Hitler came to power, and become witnesses as the Nazis tighten their grip on Germany. The book is a historical account of terrible and tragic events, and also a vivid and gripping page turner. Without giving too much away I will say that Dodd's daughter, Martha, plays a central role. As a newly divorced woman she enjoys her independence to the fullest. Initially quite taken with the superficial glamour of the Nazis, she soon gains a very personal perspective on the ideologies that clashed in the Europe of the 1930's, and the atrocities that were committed in their name. Her story truly falls into the category of ``you can't make this stuff up"... In the Garden of Beasts is a wonderful book; it is well written, very interesting and informative, and impossible to put down.

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