Reading Wednesday

Reading Wednesday- In the Garden of Beasts

Oops it’s only Tuesday!

We are in Nelson on the South Island of New Zealand. We are leaving this morning to spend three days hiking in what I understand is the spectacular Able Tasman National Park.  I’m pretty sure we will not have any phone service in this remote area, so I decided to post the weekly “Wednesday Reading” blog a day early (depending on what time zone you are in, it may be a day and a half early!).

Oh and you can be sure there is a blog forthcoming about our Able Tasman hike.

Yesterday I finished “In the Garden of Beasts” by Seattle area author Erik Larson.

I’ve read three other books by Larson; “Issac’s Storm” – about the Galveston hurricane; “Dead Wake” – about the sinking of the Lusitania; and my favorite “Devil in the White City” – about a serial killer during the Chicago World’s Fair.

“In the Garden of Beasts” is about the United States ambassador to Germany during the years leading up to Hitler’s dominance and the outbreak of WWII.

Although I did not find this book nearly as engrossing story-wise as the other Larson books I’ve read I did find it both fascinating and disturbing.  My eyes were opened to a great deal of information about events that took place and petty politicking within our own government where a “blind eye” was turned when more could have been done.  Different behavior by the US government possibly could have prevented the ultimate terror Hitler rained down. “In the Garden of Beasts” pulls readers in to the spiraling inertia of 1930’s Berlin and the harrowing results.

Ambassador Dodd is a political figure I knew little of but whom I now view with admiration and respect.  However his self-centered and flirtatious daughter Martha’s behavior I found repugnant.

In true Larson form “In the Garden of Beasts” spills forth with a minutiae of detail thanks to Larson’s genius in research. The final pages of the book offer a fascinating listing of the hundreds of documents, letters, memoirs and more on which Larson based his work.

I have great respect for Erik Larson as a talented researcher and writer.  I recommend “In the Garden of Beasts”.  Even if you think you know all about WWII, this book puts forth a whole new side of the story, the people and the sequence of events that changed our world forever.

Next Up – I have just begun the book “The Girls: A Novel” by Emma Cline


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