Berlin,1933. William E. Dodd, a mild-mannered academic from Chicago, has to his own and everyone else's surprise, become America's first ambassador to Hitler's Germany, in a year that proves to be a turning point in history. Dodd and his family, notably his vivacious daughter, Martha, observe at first-hand the many changes - some subtle, some disturbing, and some horrifically violent - that signal Hitler's consolidation of power. Dodd has little choice but to associate with key figures in the Nazi party, his increasingly concerned cables make little impact on an indifferent U.S. State Department, while Martha is drawn to the Nazis and their vision of a 'New Germany' and has a succession of affairs with senior party players, including first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as the year darkens, Dodd and his daughter find their lives transformed and any last illusion they might have about Hitler are shattered by the violence of the 'Night of the Long Knives' in the summer of 1934 that established him as supreme dictator. Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the times, and with brilliant portraits of Hitler, Goebbels, Goering and Himmler amongst others, Erik Larson's new book sheds unique light on events as they unfold, resulting in an unforgettable, addictively readable work of narrative history.
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Larson's best and most enthralling work of novelistic history...rich with incident, populated by fascinating secondary characters, tinged with rising peril and pityingly persuasive...powerful, poignant...a transportingly true story. - NEW YORK TIMES
Fascinating...using letters and diaries, Larson - a master at writing true tales as riveting as fiction - creates a nuanced, eyewitness account of a father and daughter whose eyes thankfully opened as the horrors closed in. - PEOPLE
Reads like an elegant thriller...utterly compelling...an excellent and entertaining book that deserves to be a bestseller. - Washington Post
Compelling...the kind of book that brings history alive to readers and proves why Larson's Isaac's Storm and The Devil in the White City were such hits. - USA TODAY
Larson has meticulously researched the Dodds' intimate witness to Hitler's ascendancy...has all the pleasures of a political thriller: innocents abroad, the gathering storm...a fresh picture of these terrible events. - New York Times Book Review
A stunning work of history. - NEWSWEEK
Larson writes history like a novelist. He presents a familiar story through fresh eyes, conveying quite wonderfully the electrically charged atmosphere of a whole society turning towards the stormy dark. - SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
A compelling tale... a narrative that makes such a brave effort to see history as it evolves and not as it becomes. - SPECTATOR
Darkly enjoyable...his tale is well told - SUNDAY TIMES
Gives the subject matter a fresh perspective... Larson paints a vivid picture of 1930s Berlin, a city spiraling into disaster. A master of mood, he manipulates the reader to the point that we find ourselves gripping on to every shard of hope, even to the extent of expecting the march of history to miraculously change course before our very eyes - Time Out
The rise of Hitler is told through the eyes of William E Dodd, a Chicago academic who was made the first ambassador to Nazi Germany, in this compelling narrative history, which brings to life the terrible changes wrought on Germany by Hitlerand his circle as they tightened their grip on power... - CHOICE, September 2012
Erik Larson is a prize-winning journalist and narrative historian. His books include Isaac's Storm, Thunderstruck and the number one bestseller, The Devil in the White City, which won an Edgar Award and was shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger Non-Fiction Award. He lives in Seattle.