The year is 1933 and the city, Berlin. William E. Dodd has just been appointed America's first ambassador to Hitler's Germany and is about to witness a turning point in history.
A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings his family with him, including his vivacious daughter, Martha. She is captivated by not only the pomp and the parties but also the handsome young men of the Third Reich whose enthusiasm for restoring Germany to world prominence proves infectious. Enamoured of the 'New Germany', she has a succession of affairs, including with the first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels.
But evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, the press is censored and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate and Martha's father telegraphs his growing concerns to a largely indifferent U.S. State Department. As that tumultuous year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance and - ultimately horror when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler's true character and ruthless ambition.
Suffused with the extraordinary atmosphere of the time and bringing a compelling, eyewitness perspective to events - with revealing portraits of some of the Nazi regime's most infamous individuals: from the bizarre Göring to the unexpectedly charming yet wholly sinister Goebbels - Erik Larson's brilliantly-researched, dazzlingly-told new history speaks volumes about why the world failed to recognize the threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.show more