Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dear Great Book Guru, I love the summer; there is so much time for lounging and reading- my two favorite activities. And, of course, there is nothing better than sitting on Sea Cliff Beach under one of those beautiful blue stripped umbrellas, sipping an iced tea, and reading a great book. Do you have any suggestions: I'm thinking non-fiction for a change… Devoted Beach Goer- Book Reader

Dear Devoted, Summer is a wonderful time to experiment with different reading genres, and I have just the book for you. In the last month, both my son Daniel DiPietro and friend Barbara Murray sang the praises of IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS by Erik Larson. How right they were! This narrative non-fiction take on pre-World War II Germany is subtitled: " Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin." Told in real time, the book recounts the story of a mild mannered academic William Dodd who has just been appointed U.S. Ambassador to Germany (he was F.D.R.'s fifteenth choice- everyone else refused) and his beautiful, flirtatious daughter Martha. When they arrive in Berlin, they are both naïve and casually anti-Semitic; the elder Dodd is cautious and tries to overlook the growing violence which lies just below the surface in sophisticated, robust Berlin ("let these men work on their schemes") while his daughter is enamored of all things German and refuses to see the brutality that surrounds her magical daily existence ("we don't know the whole story"). As the year unfolds, we share the family's excitement, romantic intrigues, and finally their horror at the tragedies that befall their friends, neighbors, and colleagues. A compelling read!

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