Wednesday, May 4, 2012
5:30 pm Reception
7:00 pm Reading
Columbus Museum of Art
Erik Larson took the world by storm with his huge bestsellers The Devil in the White City and Thunderstruck. But it is In The Garden of Beasts that the New York Times called, “By far his most enthralling work of novelistic history.
The time is 1933, and a benign and most un-ambassador type man named William E. Dodd was named by President Franklin Roosevelt, as ambassador to a Germany where Adolf Hitler was only now assuming absolute power. Dodd brought his family which included Martha Dodd, an indiscriminate flirt who had affairs with a Russian spy and the head of the Gestapo.
What makes this book so extraordinary is how Larson puts the reader into Berlin when the Nazis were beginning to wreck havoc, allowing us to glimpse the destruction awaiting the world. Through Dodd himself, we witness a man whose sense of history gave him the strength not to bend to German pressure. Through Martha, the perspective is that of a young woman with little desire for anything than pleasure. Larson’s impeccable research and strong narrative drive have created a story that is part thriller, part romance, and all true. As The Washington Post wrote: “Beast in the Garden is utterly compelling, marvelous stuff.”