Beginning with his quiet academic life at the University of Chicago, where he is working on completing his life’s work, a history of the American Civil War, Dodd is apparently the last candidate under consideration for the post no one else wants. And when offered it, he dutifully accepts, citing his PhD studies in Leipzig some 40 years before hopefully being a credential that will have some impact on the new German Nazi regime that has taken power, and for which hope still glimmers that Washington diplomacy might be able to be influence or control the brash and often charming Nazis. It’s 1933, and the glimmers of horror are only being experienced in certain quarters, but for those who occupy the privileged halls of the elite international diplomatic community in Berlin, you don’t see it if you don’t want to. A man of modest income, Dodd has pledged to live on his small salary in Berlin, where all his predecessors came from elite and wealthy blue blood families who funded considerable financial support to their advantaged society hermetically sealed off from the lives of everyday Germans. And it is into this world that the history professor, now ambassador, Dodd arrives with his wife and two adult children, a son and daughter.
Separated from her husband and in the process of divorce, Martha Dodd quickly became caught up in the glamour and excitement of Berlin's social scene and had a series of liaisons, likely sexual, including Gestapo head Rudolf Diels and then later Soviet attaché and secret agent Boris Vinogradov. As she proceeds to deny the emerging Nazi horror, actually witnessing some of it in the streets herself, her meanwhile father commits himself to try to lecture the Germans on the proper path of conduct for this emerging power. Populated vivid iconic characters and direct interactions with such historic figures as President Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, Joseph Goebbels, SS Generals Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich, Ernst Röhm, Franz von Papen - Vice Chancellor under Hindenburg, and lesser known figures, In the Garden of Beasts is a riveting and informative read. Early reports say that Tom Hanks and Natalie Portman have been cast in the film project which is currently in development.