Sunday, November 15, 2015

BOOKS: Dancing Barefoot, In the Garden of the Beasts

 Nonfiction November 2015

Two reviews from January. That's a long time ago, isn't it? Details are sketchy, but I do have an overall vibe from these books.

In the Garden of the Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin - Erik Larson, 12 h 52 min

I read and really liked Larson's book, Devil in the White City. I also picked up  Thunderstruck at a used book sale, but available audiobook can trump hard copy at times. Part of what I liked about Devil in the White City was how Larson told two stories at once - the crazy serial killer and World Fair being held in Chicago. In the Garden of the Beasts isn't quite two separate stories like that. An American diplomat and his family are sent to Berlin in the 1933, as the Nazi's are taking off. The family, the Dodds, primarily the father,William E and his daughter, Martha were not memorable. Not horrible enough to hate, not virtuous enough to cheer for. Just there in Berlin with horrible people doing horrible things.  It's not fun reading about how the Nazi's came to such power, and the horrible things they were doing as people saw and couldn't or wouldn't do anything to stop it. The facts are true, and looking at it from the Ambassador's family was a on-the-ground unique way of telling the story, but it wasn't quite enough for me. I'll try another Larson, but I don't think this was his best.

Dancing Barefoot - Wil Wheaton, 2 h 11 min

I listened to Wheaton read Ready Player One, and he was adorable as usual. I think these were some stories left over from his other book, Just A Geek: Unflinchingly Honest Tales of the Search for Life, Love, and Fulfillment Beyond the Starship Enterprise, or from his blog. Dancing Barefoot is five essays on Wheaton's life. Easy to listen to, Wheaton is around my age, so we have the same cultural markers. If you are a Wheaton fan, or Trekkie, you'll enjoy this one.