Book Club Kits
In the Garden of Beasts
by Larson, Erik
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1. How was Martha able to appear youthful, even virginal, yet also sophisticated? What made her attractive to such a broad variety of men, from literary figures to military leaders? What type of man was she most attracted to? How did these men compare to her father?
2. Larson describes Roosevelts struggle when no one would take the job as U.S. ambassador to Germany. Would you have accepted the job if you had been in Dodds situation?
3. Dodd was repeatedly reminded that his biggest concern should be whether Germany would default on its massive debt to the United States. Why didnt Washington link Messersmiths warnings to Americas economic interests? Do economic concerns still overshadow human rights in foreign policy today? Are economics and human rights dependent on each other?
4. In the Garden of Beasts captures the years when outsiders refused to believe Hitler was anything more than a passing sideshow. Dodd even sympathized with Hitlers belief that the Versailles Treaty gave Germany a raw deal, and that American banks were charging Germany unfair interest rates. Without the benefit of hindsight, what would you have believed about the political situation in Germany in the early 1930s?
5. Discuss Marthas relationship with Boris. What allure did the Soviet Union have for her? Why was she drawn to travel there?
6. Larsons research sources comprise more than forty pages. Look through this section and make observations about the process he undertook to reconstruct this history. How does it benefit a society to have free access to historical documents? Is there such a thing as historical truth?
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