Tuesday, March 8, 2011

History class

I'm almost finished reading Erik Larson's new book (it comes out in May,) In the Garden of Beasts, about the American Ambassador to Germany and his family as they experienced Berlin in the early 1930's when Hitler was rising to power. It is fascinating, engrossing, and just as I did with Devil in the White City, I am really learning about this particular slice of history. Larson is filling in gaps for me, changing my perspective.

He's also leading me to want to read more about this era, especially Hans Fallada. Turns out, the daughter of the Ambassador knew Hans Fallada through some friends and wrote a particularly detailed diary account (as it seemed everyone did at that time) about a visit she made to his house in the countryside. As I was reading this chapter I thought, Oh, hey! It's that Hans Fallada guy! He has a book on our Books We Love table! I haven't read anything by him but now I most certainly will. How could I not be interested when Larson and his diarists paint such a vivid picture of this world famous author about to live through one of the worst times in modern history? Now I need to know!

Erik Larson is the best. Not only do I love his book, but he's got me wanting to absorb as much as I can about everyone he mentions. I want to go to Berlin and walk down Tiergartenstrasse where the Ambassador lived. I want to read everyone's diary. I dare say he is the best teacher I've ever had.

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