In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson (2011)

Berlin in 1933 was no place for a peaceful university professor with a fun loving son, and a recently separated daughter looking for romance and adventure. Professor Dodd was not Roosevelt’s first choice for ambassador to Germany, but he accepted the appointment thinking it would be a good career move and give him time to complete his historical writing on the American Civil War.

The reader is greeted with an outrage by brown shirt paramilitary against an American doctor even before the Professor and his family arrive in Berlin. This outrage and others to come are initially regarded by the Ambassador and his daughter as isolated incidents that occur as Germany seeks to find its place among the powerful nations of the world. It takes some time for the Ambassador and his family to realize the dark nature of this German government.

Then in 1934, it became clear to the Dodds that the Nazis could not be trusted and would resort to clandestine and harsh measures to attain their goals. Dodd, through his critical communications, loses favor with both the U.S. State Department and his German hosts so that he and his family are required to leave Germany at the end of 1934. The reader can follow the narrative through this two year period with interest and gain some understanding of how the world did not recognize the great danger that was to come.

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