Stephen Karlson (shkarlson) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Stephen Karlson

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A long train trip gives me an opportunity to finish some reading, mostly lighter fare. Book Review No. 13 is Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Berlin.  It's novelized history. The protagonists are the family of at the time U.S. Ambassador William Dodd, a University of Chicago historian who feels hard-done-by in his profession, despite having moved from undergraduate studies at Virginia A&M to graduate studies at Leipzig and parlaying an appointment at Randolph - Macon into a professorship at Chicago, and into an ambassadorship.  You don't see that kind of career mobility any more.  Ambassador Dodd is no fan of the Nazis, an attitude that doesn't sit well with the striped-pants establishmentarians already skeptical of him using the family Buick rather than some limousine as the embassy car.  His daughter racks up a few more conquests than Monica Lewinsky, including influential Nazis and members of the opposition.  A number of people who will become better known after war breaks out make cameo appearances.  The ambassador's term ends shortly after the Night of the Long Knives.  If the purpose of the book is to illustrate the venality and fecklessness of the establishment, it succeeds.  Or perhaps it's a script for a soap opera.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)

Tags: european, history, political thriller, war

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