Radio Wolinsky

Erik Larson, 2011: In the Garden of Beasts, Berlin in the 1930s

Erik Larson discusses his book, “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin,” hosted by Richard Wolinsky, and first aired on July 21, 2011.

As the Trump Administration continues through its second year, and as the threat of fascism grows, even as perhaps a noose is tightening around the regime’s neck, there’s a tendency to look back on the past, to see what we might learn and whether we can use that knowledge to cope with what’s happening today.

One of the decades that seems to have parallels to our own is the nineteen thirties, particularly in terms of the rise of Hitler in Germany, and I’ve noticed more than a few people I know personally have found books that maybe help them understand that era better. One of those books is Erik Larson’s 2011 “In the Garden of Beasts,” which looks at the rise of Nazi Germany from the perspective of an American family, that of ambassador William Dodd. Erik Larson is the author of several non-fiction works, including The Devil in the White City, Thunderstruck, and his most recent, Dead Wake, about the sinking of the Lusitania, in 2015.

The interview covers two areas. The first is the creation of the book itself, along with some of the history of Nazi Germany. The second delves into whether the United States (remember, this was recorded in 2011) is on the precipice of similar events. It turns out that we may be a lot closer than Eric Larson felt then.

In an e-mail sent on August 25, 2018, Eric Larson writes:

“I find it interesting that readers are making their own allusions to Trump and our times. I’ve tried to avoid making connections, though increasingly I do feel there’s a sinister resonance here, especially now that ICE seems inclined more and more to take on a Gestapo-esque role.”

Erik Larson’s next book will be published in early 2020.

Photo on Radio Wolinsky page. U.S. Ambassador William Dodd sits in the upper left-hand corner of the photo (the only photo clearly showing both Dodd and Hitler in the archives).

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