I’m a sucker for historically accurate novels so one of my favorite genres is narrative non-fiction. Recently, I picked up In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin. The story begins in Berlin in 1933 when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Germany after Hitler’s rise to Chancellor.
This story is brought to life from the point of view of Dodd, a scholar and frugal dude who refuses to conform to the extravagance of Nazi Berlin and his daughter Martha, a young women swept away with the society lifestyle and parties during the time. Martha actually dates several of the key players during this chilling time, notably the head of the Gestapo and a Soviet spy.
This book is remarkably researched, every quote coming straight from a letter or a diary from Dodd or Martha. If you pick up the hard copy, don’t be alarmed at its length. The last 1/3 of the book is references!
What I found most impressive was the way that Erik Larson told the story. It is engrossing and creepy. I had to keep reminding myself that it was true, and even though I knew how it ended, I couldn’t put it down.