December 10, 2012
Audiobook: In the Garden of the Beasts
by Erik Larson
Read by Stephen Hoye
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there !
I've not read any of Erik Larson's work before, even though he (and this book) have been on my radar for a while now. So, when it came up as the November book at the Nook, I was more than happy to read it. (Or in my case, listen to it, since I didn't really have the time to sit and read it.)
If you don't know: it's the story of William Dodd, the U. S. Ambassador to Berlin in 1933, just as Hitler was rising to power, and all that entails. And, it entailed a lot. First off, Dodd wasn't that popular with the "Pretty Good Club": the insiders (mostly Harvard grads) at the State Department who didn't like Dodd's conservation-minded ways. (He wanted to live within his salary? Shocking!) They undercut all of Dodd's attempts at, well, diplomacy, and leaked things to the press whenever it served them to make him look bad. All they really wanted him to do -- infuriatingly, to the reader, knowing what Hitler was capable of -- is get Germany to make good on their debt to America.
The other part of the story (the "love" part) was about Dodd's daughter, Martha, who was a bit of a manizer. (If a man can be a womanizer, then...) She was naive, silly, and very much in love with falling in love. So, as a result, she was married twice, divorced once, and had strings of lovers on her chain all at the same time. Can you tell yet that she really bothered me? Actually, what bothered me most was not all of that, but that she would play one lover off another. Or pine for their attention, only to push them away. It was most infuriating.
But, this book was fascinating. It did spawn a lot of thought and discussion: about the nature of evil, about relationships, about what could have been done, about politics. And for that, reading (well listening to it -- a side note: the audio was just fine. Maybe Hoye's voice was a bit grating by the end, but not enough to turn me off) this is well worth the time.