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I love mustelid haberdashery, vinho verde wine, and wensleydale with fruit.

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

This is the second of Larson's books that I've read, and I have to say that I liked this one a lot more.   I suspect it's because he wasn't trying to parallel two stories (one of them a gorefest).


This story is primarily about Ambassador William Dodd, an unlikely man for a foreign post, and his family, living in pre-WWII-Nazi Germany.   Dodd is a history professor who takes the post after the Roosevelt administration has a hard time finding someone to take the post.   He's an interesting man, more class conscious than I would have expected, and he is definitely an odd type of person to work for the foreign service - frugal and penny pinching, from "lower" class roots than his counterparts, who lavishly entertain foreign guests on their own dime and show off their prestige.

With him is his family - his wife and two children - though the most important is clearly his daughter Martha, a soon-to-be-divorcee who is sexually free and interested in the men and world around her.

It's an interesting book, if a bit slow.   I already knew the framing of the story - how it is someone like Hitler and his party came to power, and why the US and its citizens acted as they did.   What this story really brought was some of the personal bits and atmosphere into that time and space.   How Ambassador Dodd reacted and worked in Germany, the antics that his daughter engaged in, and how all of the other dignitaries , foreign servicmen, and politicians reacted.

I thought it was interesting.  Not the best book I've ever heard, but I enjoyed it and went out of my way to make sure I had time to listen to it.