In the Garden of Beasts is a fascinating look inside Nazi Germany, before World War II, before the pogroms and gas chambers. Author Erik Larson follows William Dodd and his family during his first year as the American ambassador to Germany in 1933. Hitler had just become Chancellor and few knew what to make of the Nazis. Reports of attacks were tempered by what seemed to be a resurgence in Germany. The book is focused primarily on the ambassador and his daughter, Martha. Larson brilliantly recreates Berlin 1933, the excitement of the Nazi "revolution", the growing unease and distrust fostered by the gestapo, and the social life in which various Nazi officials took part. The book is a bit episodic, and though they live in the same house, the stories of Martha and her father have very little intersection. Martha is very active in the Berlin social life and is initially excited by the Nazi movement. William Dodd goes in with some trepidation and bemoans the social obligations of the job and interacts with Germany's government through his job. Throughout the year they witness as Hitler and the Nazi's grow bolder in their actions and pave the way to World War II.