'Tells a fascinating story brilliantly well.'
'The whole book [is] written in such a riveting style that you sometimes wonder whether you are reading a historical account or a gripping novel.'
'Larson does a remarkable job bringing Berlin to life ... [he] succeeds in grand style in crafting an absorbing, richly detailed tale.'
'Gripping … a story of stunning impact.'
New York Daily News
'Larson has meticulously researched the Dodds’ intimate witness to Hitler’s ascendancy and created an edifying narrative of this historical byway that 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.'
'A fascinating tale.'
'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.'
'With the benefit of hindsight the only surprise is that it took [the Dodds] so long to see the truth, but hindsight is the one thing that Erik Larson does not allow them or himself. He tells their story chronologically, without judgment, without comment almost, letting events unfold with their own hidden logic ... Larson’s is a compelling tale, and ... [makes] a brave effort to see history as it evolves and not as it becomes.'
'A brilliant and often infuriating account of the experiences and evolving attitudes of the Dodd family during Hitler’s critical first year in power. With the benefit of hindsight, of course, the Dodds seem almost criminally ignorant, but Larson treats them with a degree of compassion that elevates them to tragic status.'
starred Booklist review
“Excellent ... suspenseful, [has] the feel of a John le Carré novel.”
starred Kirkus review
'In this mesmerising portrait of the Nazi capital, Larson plumbs a far more diabolical urban cauldron than in his bestselling The Devil in the White City ... a vivid, atmospheric panorama of the Third Reich and its leaders, including murderous Nazi factional infighting, through the accretion of small crimes and petty thuggery.' starred review
starred Publishers Weekly review
'Larson's use of a broad range of source material, including the novels of Christopher Isherwood, has enabled him to brilliantly recreate the look and feel of Berlin before the war. His narrative is simply enthralling ... Larson's decision to view the times through the eyes of the Dodds is inspired.'
'Helpless fear pervades ... yet it is uplifting: faced with atrocity people become alive to the corrosiveness of extremism, and injustice inspires compassion.'
‘A dazzling amalgam of reportage, historical digging and narrative drive that casts an eerie new light on the long prelude to World War II ... Larson’s study reads like a suspense novel, replete with colorful characters, both familiar and those previously relegated to the shadows. Like Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories or Victor Klemperer’s Diaries, In the Garden of Beasts is an on-the-ground documentary of a society going mad in slow motion.’
The Chicago Sun-Times
'Fabulous stuff ... Larson has the skills of a novelist. Through his deft dimensional portrayal of Dodd and his family, he paints a compelling picture of the confusion as Hitler brutalized his way to ultimate dictatorship.'
'By far his best and most enthralling work of novelistic history ... Mr. Larson’s powerful, poignant historical narrative [is] a transportingly true story.'
The New York Times
'[Larson is] an expert popular historian ... 'Beasts' is gripping, a nightmare narrative of a terrible time.'
The Seattle Times
'Reads like an elegant thriller … Utterly compelling … An excellent and entertaining book that deserves to be a bestseller.'
Philip Kerr, The 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.'
'Reading In the Garden of Beasts… is like slipping slowly into a nightmare, with logic perverted and morality upended … It all makes for a powerful, unsettling immediacy.'
Bruce Handy, Vanity Fair
‘Larson, a master of historical nonfiction, has written a fascinating book that, although carefully researched and documented, reads like a political thriller … highly recommended to anyone interested in the rise of the Third Reich and America’s role in that process.’
Jewish Book World
‘Larson’s strengths as a storyteller have never been stronger than they are here, and this story is far more important than either The Devil in the White City or Thunderstruck. How the United States dithered as Hitler rose to power is a cautionary tale that bears repeating, and Larson has told it masterfully.’
Cleveland Plain Dealer
‘Larson has done it again, expertly weaving together a fresh new narrative from ominous days of the 20th century.’
‘Mesmerising … cinematic, improbable yet true.’
‘Highly compelling … Larson brings Berlin roaring to life in all its glamour and horror … a welcome new chapter in the vast canon of World War II literature.’
Christian Science Monitor
Los Angeles Times
‘Vivid and immediate … a fascinating and gripping account.’
Washington Independent Review of Books
‘Larson has taken a brilliant idea and turned it into a gripping book.’
Women’s Wear Daily
‘A gripping, deeply-intimate narrative with a climax that reads like the best political thriller, where we are stunned with each turn of the page.’
Louisville Courier Journal
‘Electrifying reading … fascinating.’
‘Larson's books are tightly focused and meticulously researched, but they also are rich in anecdote and detail from the homey mundane to the tragic, the absurd and the downright funny. His prose has an austere, compassionate lyricism. His narratives have novelistic pull … his psychological perception and empathic imagination lend flesh to the documents, music to the ballrooms. He gives a throbbing pulse to the foolish and the wise, the malignant and the kind.’
‘A masterly work of salacious nonfiction that captures the decadent and deadly years of The Third Reich.’
‘Even though we know how it will end — the book's climax, the Night of the Long Knives, being just the beginning, this is a page-turner, full of flesh and blood people and monsters too, whose charms are particularly disturbing.’
‘Larson’s latest chronicle of history has as much excitement as a thriller novel, and it’s all the more thrilling because it’s all true.’
Asbury Park Press
‘Larson succeeds brilliantly … offers a fascinating window into the year when the world began its slow slide into war.’
‘Larson’s scholarship is impressive, but it’s his pacing and knack for suspense that elevates the book from the matter-of-fact to the sublime.’
‘[A] brilliant tour de force of nonfiction writing … Larson, as always, conjures magic with the details, and often injects a welcome dollop of dark humour … In the Garden of Beasts serves as both a serious, insightful look at history, and a stern warning against national complacency when you’re being run by a dictator who is both vicious and undeniably off his rocker.’
Dallas Morning News
‘Like slipping slowly into a nightmare, with logic perverted and morality upended … It all makes for a powerful, unsettling immediacy.’
‘A master of nonfiction storytelling … Larson once again gathers an astounding amount of historical detail to recreate scene after vivid scene … a stunning, provocative immersion … a call to citizens in all nations to investigate the motives of power brokers and government officials, to stand our ground when we see others’ moral compasses going awry.’
Dallas/Fort Worth Star-Telegram
‘No other author … has the ability to actually live up to that old adage of making history come alive. What Larson is doing is creating a world that no longer exists on the page … [He] not only succeeds but is able to turn what one would expect to be tedium into page-turning brilliance.’
‘Narrative nonfiction at its finest, this story drops into 1933 Berlin as William E. Dodd becomes the first US ambassador to Hitler’s Germany — a tale of intrigue, romance, and foreboding.’
Kansas City Star
‘One of the most popular history books this year … offers something for both serious students of the 1930s and for lovers of charming stories.’
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
‘Erik Larson tackles this outstanding period of history as fully and compellingly as he portrayed the events in his bestseller, The Devil in the White City. With each page, more horrors are revealed, making it impossible to put down. In the Garden of Beasts reads like the true thriller it is.’