Monday, April 11, 2011

Storms and storm troopers

It’s another stormy Monday morning and Pete is staying close to his people.
Pete hates thunder and lightning, having been terrified to the point of running away from home during a storm when he was about six months old.
We can gauge the severity of a storm by where Pete goes to hide from it. A mild storm will send him to his kennel. A strong storm will find him cowering in the back of our walk-in bedroom closet. During some storms, we find him hiding under the toilet in the guest bathroom. He took refuge this morning under the toilet in the master bathroom while Maria got ready for work.
Now, as I sit at the kitchen table with my netbook and mocha cappuccino, he’s lying a couple of inches from my left foot, pretending to sleep as the rain splats onto the concrete patio and thunder rumbles in the distance.
Ruthie, being old and mostly deaf, doesn’t notice the thunder and only know that water is falling from the sky.
The rain is expected to blow off across the Mississippi River to Tennessee by about 1 p.m., so I may delay my trip to the post office until then. Besides picking up our mail, I have to dispatch a book I sold on
In the meantime, I need to write an book review of Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of Beasts,” a fascinating look at the early days of the Third Reich scheduled for publication May 10.
I got an advance uncorrected proof from the Vine Program, in which those of us who write a lot of product reviews get free stuff – mostly books, but sometimes other products – to check out and review.
“In the Garden of Beasts” is the story of U.S. Ambassador William Dodd and his family, notably his daughter Martha, during his time as ambassador to Germany. Dodd, a university professor appointed to the post by President Franklin Roosevelt, served as ambassador from July 13, 1933, to Dec. 29, 1937, and witnessed the transformation of Germany into a totalitarian state. Adolf Hitler had been appointed chancellor in early 1933 and spent the next few years ruthlessly consolidating his power through brute force and political murder.
Dodd’s daughter Martha was a free spirit in her 20s, estranged from her New York banker husband, who bounced from one romantic relationship to another, all the time moving from being an enthusiastic supporter of Hitler’s New Germany, to becoming an apologist for the Nazis, to finally detesting Hitler and his regime.
The book is full of interesting nuggets, like the efforts of Foreign Press Chief Ernst “Putzi” Hanfstaengl to set her up as Hitler’s mistress. They had one meeting during which Hitler kissed her hand twice, but showed no other interest. Lucky for Martha who lived until 1990 instead of dying in Hitler’s bunker as Eva Braun did in May, 1945. And we learn that King Kong was Hitler’s favorite movie.
Larson is a facile writer and a diligent scholar and the book is a real page-turner. If you’re looking for a new perspective on the early days of Nazi Germany, this book is a real gem.
Well, I guess I just wrote the review. I’ll do a copy/paste and it will be off my plate.

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