Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: rrnewneighbors.org [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]

Literary Events

Literary Events

What's New?__________


July 6th, author Neil Gaiman will speak at the Long Center. $32.
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The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Seriesevents will be listed here.
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Round Rock Public Library Book Group meets monthly at 7:00-8:30 PM. Check the library website for more information, or ask Carla.
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

"In the Garden of Beasts" Scores Unanimous "Like"

Everyone seemed to "like" reading In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson. That doesn't mean it made anyone feel happy! This book took place during a dark time that was followed by a darker one. If the book shed light on anything, it highlighted even darker implications than we already had known about Hitler's rise to power. And yet, the author's focus on the young and freespirited Martha interspersed hope into the hopeless scenario, even though the reader was well aware of the dismal history that would occur after the Dodd family left Germany.

Jay's questions directed our discussion. In most cases, we were in agreement as to the answers to the questions. We brought out a lot of depth in our answers, as usual. One question that brought out some interesting discussion was When did the Dodd family, and particularly Martha, experience a turning point of understanding the situation as an evil one? Pam noticed that Martha went back and forth, for example seeing a concentration camp and seemingly changing her previous view of the attractive Germany but then a few chapters later bouncing back to her tendency to view the persecution as isolated incidents. Rather than a weakness on the author's part, others in our group saw this vacillation of the Dodds as representing to the reader a realistic view of the Dodds being unable to believe the depth of evil that Hitler's early displays of power reflected.

In the book, Larson didn't ever go into detail on the situations in the United States and Russia during Hitler's rise to power. In our discussion, we found that the history of the United States and Russia were significantly related to the success of Nazi Germany. Frank noted that the United States was undergoing the Great Depression, which meant that the American government was focused inwardly. Also, the United States didn't have a powerful armed forces at that time; whereas Hitler spent much of those 10 years building a huge army that encompassed almost every able-bodied young man in Germany. Dennis reminded us that another reason why Hitler was able to work without disturbance from the rest of the world was that there was chaos in many countries at the time after World War I, particularly in Russia, where Stalin was enacting purges and persecution similar to those of Hitler in Germany.

I particularly enjoyed the answers to Jay's question, "What wasn't answered by the book?" Answers about the unanswered included, "Whatever happened to the Jewish family who owned the house the Dodds rented?," "What was Bill Dodd doing during his stay in Germany? (and afterwards, although someone said he ended up as a salesman in the United States)," and "Why didn't Martha's mother rein her in more?" Someone said that we do not know what transpired between Martha and her mother, because there was no diary published about this. I guess that this makes sense but I would add that Martha might have indeed journaled about arguments with her mother and decided later to keep them from the public eye. I admit that "journaled" is a bit of an anachronistic/futuristic term for the 1930s. But Martha did indeed "journal," and would surely have blogged if she were able to!

This book did not gloss over the horrors inflicted by the Nazi regime but gave us insight into the chain of events that climaxed in World War II.

Resources:  "Our" Frank Campbell has posted in his new blog about this book, which he read with us. To read his post, go to: http://frankcampbell56.blogspot.com/  The article about the book is called "A Sheep Among the Wolves."

Jay found some books by Martha Dodd that are available in the UT library. You can view them at the library but not borrow them. Thus, they will be there if you go looking for them!   Here is Jay's list:


Dodd, Martha. (1939). Through embassy eyes. NY: Harcourt Brace and Company. (943.085 D661T) (In this memoir, Martha mentions her affair with a young foreign embassy secretary [Boris Vinogradov, First Secretary of Soviet Embassy] as her hottest love.)

Dodd, Martha, & Dodd, William E. (Eds.).  (1941). Ambassador Dodd’s diary, 1933-1939. NY: Harcourt Brace and Company. (D413 D6 A3 1941)

Dodd, Martha. (1945). Sowing the wind. NY: Harcourt Brace and Company. (PS 3507 O22 S695) (Novel based on Martha’s plane ride with WWI flying ace Ernst Udet, whom she dated.)  

Dodd, Martha. (1955). The searching light. NY: Citadel Press. (813 D661 SE)



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