Friday Morning Bookclub

April 30, 2012

In The Garden Of The Beasts: A Review By Ann

Filed under: Couples meetings,In The Garden Of The Beasts — susanbright @ 11:31 am

In the Garden of the Beasts

The book club members at April’s “couples” dinner meeting seemed to fall into distinct camps. There were a few history buffs that actually enjoyed reading, Erik Larson’s The Garden of the Beasts. There was the opposite crowd – the majority, I hear — who struggled to get through the book. And, then there was the camp I fell in, “not great, not horrible.” Many in this “just ok” camp who spoke up at the meeting had read Larson’s Devil in the White City, and was disappointed that this latest book was not as riveting as White City, which was also a true story and meticulously documented.

About the Book

The Garden of the Beasts story centered on William Dodd, who was a professor at the University of Chicago, a product of a southern upbringing smitten with Southern history, and an unlikely choice for the ambassador to Germany in the late 1930’s as Hitler was coming to power. He was mild-mannered and a self-described “Jeffersonian Democrat.”  Somewhat of a social climber, Dodd exemplified his Jefferson ideals in his attitude that citizens (and therefore himself) have a civic duty to help their country and fight corruption, and apparently he did fight aristocratic elitism as the ambassador (most notably by shipping his Chevy across the Atlantic).

Unfortunately, almost 100 years after Jefferson, Dodd’s ideals were not an attitude of equality and respect for all. What was really shocking, and why I am glad to have read the book, was how utterly rampant negative views of Jews were by Americans, and by even the so-called good guys. This is not breaking news, but this book hit a chord in me.

About Book club

My husband and I never read the same book at the same time (well, except for book club). So, to cut to the chase, the book sparked a conversation that was really meaningful and enlightening to me. The April couple’s meeting is unique in that there is the opportunity to probe into some unexplored territory with your spouse, as well as our book club members. And, that’s why I will read just about any book “assigned” by book club and why I love book club. I am just sorry more people did not have that experience this year.

So yes, we need to find the common ground amongst male and female book tastes, history and mystery buffs, avid readers and not, so more book club members and their hubbies participate. For me, it is more about the shared experience, than what book. We cannot give up!


April 25, 2012

The Friday Morning Bookclub Gives In The Garden Of The Beasts By Erik Larson 3.16 Omelets

Amazon readers gave In the Garden of the Beasts 4 stars

Goodreads readers gave In the Garden of the Beasts 3 3/4 stars

In the Garden of the Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin revolves around America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s regime, William E. Dodd and his daughter Martha.

“A hugely engrossing chronicle of events public and private. Exceedingly well-documented, exhaustive without being excessive, and utterly fascinating.”
Chicago Tribune

April 16, 2012

What Is Wrong With The Friday Morning Bookclub?

This past weekend we held our annual “couples” meeting, an evening we all look forward to. A lot of thought goes into choosing the book for this special meeting. No Chick Lit allowed! We search for that perfect book. A book that the men and the women will enjoy. Apparently this is no easy feat as we have gotten it wrong the last two years! Perhaps wrong is too strong a word, however we definitely have not gotten it right!

Last year we read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. It seemed to be THE book to read. Everyone was talking about the amazing story of Louie Zamperini. Yes, it really was an amazing story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption, however The Friday Morning Bookclub did not seem to be as impressed with the book as the rest of the world! Surviving 47th days at sea on a raft, fending off sharks and eating raw fish is quite impressive, but even that gets old after umpteen pages. Although some of our members enjoyed the book, others struggled to finish  it. On a scale of 1-5, we gave Unbroken 3 omelets.

This year we went with In The Garden Of The Beasts by Eric Larson, yet another highly acclaimed book, and yes another WWII non fiction book. Reading about William E. Dodd, America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s regime and his wild daughter Martha sounded fascinating.  Unfortunately some of us were disappointed. Different book, same results. This certainly was an interesting topic yet several of our members didn’t even bother finishing the book.

So what is wrong with The Friday Morning Bookclub? Are we more critical than most? Are we that hard to please?  It looks like in our quest to find a book that the men will enjoy, we end up with a book that no one actually loves. Maybe next year we should try something totally different. Enough with the heavy-duty non fiction!  Enough World War II! What about a good mystery or even a little fantasy. We have a whole year to work on it and try to get it right.

And here they are. The men in our lives.

Complete review of In The Garden of the Beasts coming soon!

April 11, 2012

Rate The Book: In The Garden Of The Beasts By Erik Larson

Help us rate this month’s book! All votes and comments are welcomed!

March 29, 2012

Meet Erik Larson, Author Of This Month’s Book: In The Garden of The Beasts

Yes, it is a little long, but if you are reading In The Garden of the Beasts it is well worth watching!

March 21, 2012

This Month’s Book: In The Garden Of The Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin By Erik Larson

Filed under: In The Garden Of The Beasts — susanbright @ 2:23 pm

In the Garden of the Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin is the story of William E. Dodd, a  University of Chicago professor, who was appointed by Franklin Roosevelt as America’s first ambassador to Germany. Dodd was not Roosevelt’s first choice, nor was he is second choice, however he was the only person to accept this challenging position. The year was 1933, the year Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. Together William Dodd and his family settled into a grand house located on Berlin’s central park, the Tiergarte (translation: garden of the beast).

While Dodd’s 24-year-old daughter Martha was out enjoying Berlin with the young handsome men of the Third Reich, Ambassador Dodd was beginning to realize that the acts of  anti-Semitism he had heard so much about were not  exaggerated as he originally believed to be the case. In The Garden of the Beasts is a riveting, frightening nonfiction book, based on the year the Dodd family spent in Berlin as Hitler rose to absolute power.

Please join us in reading In the Garden of the Beasts!

In the Garden of Beasts « Erik Larson : Best-selling Author of The

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