Wednesday, November 2, 2011


by Erik Larson
Crown Publishing
464 pp.
Adult Historical Non-Fiction

In 1933, William Dodd, along with his wife and a adult children, was sent to Germany as the new American Amabssador. The Nazi regime was taking hold and Hitler was Germany's beloved Chancellor. At the time, the world was fascinated with this seemingly romantic new revolution, but those who lived inside the country saw signs of something sinister brewing: laws restricting Jewish citizenship rights, foreigners being attacked in the streets, people disappearing and winding up in work camps. Despite the rising levels of violence and inhumane treatment of Jews, the world and America continued to turn a blind eye. Even Dodd's own daughter, Martha, played the coquette with some of the Nazi Party's highest in command. In the end, Dodd was the lone voice of reason, warning President Roosevelt about Germany's path to war, but his warnings went unheeded. The question remains, if America had listened to Dodd, might history and Hitler's role in it have followed some other course?

I'm a big fan of Erik Larson's books. I absolutely loved Devil In The White City and Thunderstruck. This book is a superb work of historical literature. The writing is beautiful and tight, and the book provides sometimes horrific insight into the rise of the Hitler Regime in Nazi Germany. However, while the pre-war Germany is fascinating and often frightening, I had a difficult time connecting with the stories of Embassador Dodd and his daughter, Martha. Even so, it was an amazing read.

Rating:       3 1/2 out of 4 stars
Profanity:  None
Violence:    High
Sex:            Moderate


  1. I'm fascinated by WWII stories, and this one sounds amazing. Thanks for the review!

  2. It is a painful experience to read about the ascent of Adolph Hitler, and the emergence of the Nazi Nation. Erik Larson does it with a fresh perspective. William Dodd was a Professor at University of Chicago when offered a job no one else would take. Experienced Diplomats knew that the Ambassadorship of Germany in 1933 was an assignment from Hell. Dodd was naive enough to believe it would be a thrilling adventure.

    When he arrived in Berlin, he was unsuspecting as to the horrors he would face as a country began to first unravel, and later lose its' soul. As a man of strong belief in the principles of American Democracy, he made both a poor diplomat, and a strong presence as a moral beacon in a decaying society.