Having never read him before, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts, which documents an American family's experiences in Berlin in the early 1930s:


William Dodd was an unlikely ambassador. At age 64, the brainy historian craved nothing more than a quiet berth to complete his life's work, a four-part volume entitled The Rise and Fall of the Old South. But in 1933, when Dodd accepted President Franklin D. Roosevelt's offer of an ambassadorship to Germany, it soon became clear that Berlin wasn't going to provide Dodd the peace and quiet he was hoping for.

Erik Larson (The Devil in the White City) finds in William Dodd and his family a story of complexity, depth, sympathy, and all-too-human error. In 1933, Hitler had yet to consolidate power, and it was possible for an American and his family to settle comfortably into Berlin society, socializing with members of the Nazi Party and even, in the case of Dodd's daughter Martha, pursuing an affair with the head of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels.

Read the full review here.
Larson will be appearing at tomorrow's taping of Live Wire, along with Reality Hunger author David Shields and comedian Lizz Winstead, who will also be hosting an intensive comedy writing workshop at Curious Comedy.