Yesterday I finished Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin. After two previous slow starts, I read three-quarters of the book and it became a compelling read that I could barely put down.
How did we let Hitler get away with it? That particular piece of history absolutely should not repeat itself, yet it has in other ways and in other societies across the world. Should the United States be held responsible? Larsen creates a very personal story that reminds us that at least in regard to Hitler’s rise to power, we knew about it and didn’t do anything until it was too late for many European citizens.
Tom Hanks has signed on to star as University of Chicago professor-turned-ambassador William E. Dodd in a movie based on the book, scheduled for release in 2014. Given his ability to play low-key, gentle characters with sensitivity and historical accuracy, Hanks should be wonderful. I look forward to seeing the movie — it’s a long time until it comes out, though. In the meantime, I recommend that you read this riveting non-fiction and very personal account of a family’s relationship with Hitler’s Germany.