Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Erik Larson, IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS: Love, Terror and an American Fami
Like many other people I know, I loved Larson's DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY. But I was disappointed in BEASTS; I have to confess I read the first few hundred pages but didn't finish it. I think the topic of an ambassador's family in 1930s Berlin is fascinating and important; but while DEVIL had that wonderful dual-plot structure (vicious murders/building of the World's Fair), this book seems to be structured as a serial accounting of the different Nazis that the ambassador's daughter flirted with, talked with (including Hitler), or slept with. Part of my problem was that I didn't find her engaging as a character--although perhaps my expectations are unfair, the result of 20/20 hindsight, an understanding she couldn't possibly have; she is by turns persistently astonished by what she sees around her and sympathetic to Germany's right to rise up.