OLD BUT GOOD (07/19/2012)

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My book group will be reading In the Garden of Beasts next month.  Coincidently, I recently received the following review from Monica G. from Naples, Florida. She poses some serious questions, and if you've read the book, please leave a comment.

(See Below for Erik Larson's Reply)

The book focuses on two people during the first years of Hitler's reign: William E. Dodd, the American Ambassador to Hitler's regime and his carefree daughter, Martha.

Monica G. says;

"I just finished reading IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS by Eric Larson. I only wish history courses in school had been as interesting, I would have retained a lot more! Every time I put it down, I could not wait to get back to it.

I did, however wonder why Mr Larson did not cover more about what happened to the Panovskys (his Jewish landlord) who lived above the Dodds* after 1934, although he did mention that the daughter lived in Chicago after the war.
What happened to the rest of the family?  When did they move out of the residence, what was the effect on the Dodds?
If anyone has read this book and knows the answers, leave a comment.

I definetly recommend IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS... It shows apathy to what was going on in Germany and an inside view of politics in America at the time."

As to details about the Panofsky family: My notes are now safely tucked away in my spider-filled garage. What I can tell you, though, is that Panofsky and his immediate family survived, and made their way to America. The son, in fact, became a professor of African studies at Northwestern University. I met the daughter in northern California, where she lives still, quite happily.


About The Author

Erik Larson is the author of several
The Devil in the White City and
Isaac's Storm.
He resides in Seattle.


  1. Very interesting to see Monica G's question. I had wondered the same thing, and highlighted that passage in the book (one more reason I love iBooks) to look into it. Larson seems to have done such a great job researching the background for this book, I bet he has the answers.

    I'm jealous that you're going to discuss this in book club, Joyce. I hope you'll post the gist of the conversation. We had in our neighborhood book club lit, but I happened to be out of town when it was discussed.

  2. Monica G has written to Eric Larson and so far has not received a reply. I'll let you know if he responds. My group doesn't meet until mid August but I will definetly update this review...and maybe get some answers.

  3. This book has been on by TBR list for a while. I haven't got my hands on a copy yet, but I wonder if the omission could be caused by either a lack of records (hard to believe with the ease at which we can find info these days) or, more probably, the constraints of the final book. Either way, I'm looking forward to reading this novel.


  4. I remember when this book was published hearing a review for it on NPR. I have read a fair amount about that era in Germany from the point of view of Europeans. It would be very interesting to get the American perspective. I imagine that to some extent it is has a little of the feeling of someone on the outside looking in.

  5. Erik Larson did a tremendous anount of research..evidently all stacked in his garage currently. Many readers had difficulty getting into this book but I haven't read a bad review. It's supposedly well worth the effort.
    He took the time to respond to the reviewer's questions which was very helpful. You'll see his response posted on the blog.
    Thankyou everyone for your comments.