Book Club Kit: In the Garden of Beasts

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
In the Garden of Beasts
by Erik Larson
First Published: 2011
6 Copies & Reading Guide

The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history. A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another, including with the surprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodd’s 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.

Reading Guides:
LitLovers – Includes a Book Summary, Author Bio, Brief Reviews, and Discussion Questions.
Crazy Running Legs – Includes Discussion Questions.

Reviews:

On the Web:


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We Recommend…Istanbul Passage by Joseph Kanon

Are you interested in the period just following World War II? Or maybe you’re interested in Istanbul, Turkey? Or do you just love a good spy novel? Either way, the newest book by Joseph Kanon is for you.

Istanbul Passage is a spy novel — a complicated and suspenseful tale that will leave you wondering who is doing what to whom up to the very end. Everyone could be a spy, and we can never be absolutely sure which side a person is working for—the Americans, the Russians, or the Turks. Kanon sets all of this in Istanbul just after the end of WWII when there are still Nazis that both the Americans and the Russians want to debrief, where a neutral Turkey is finally going to be required to pick sides and nothing is as it seems.

Book Club Kit: Sarah’s Key

Tatiana de Rosnay - Sarah's KeySarah’s Key
by Tatiana De Rosnay
First Published: 2007
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family’s apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours. Paris, May 2002: On Vel d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France’s past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl’s ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d’Hiv’, to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah’s past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

Reading Guide:
LitLovers – Includes Book Summary, Author Bio, Discussion Questions, and  Book Reviews

Reviews:
Publishers Weekly -“Book Review” Reviewed on 05/28/07
Jewish Literary Review – “Two Families, Linked by Death, and a Secret” by Steve Pollak
BlogCritics – “Book Review” by Emm

Author’s Website: http://www.tatianaderosnay.com/ (in French)

More about the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup:
The New York Times – “France Reflects on Its Role in Wartime Fate of Jews” by Scott Sayare
The Huffington Post – “Cecile Widerman Kaufer, Holocaust Survivor, Recounts 1942 Vel D’Hiv Roundup in Paris Stadium” by Tara Kelly
Radio France International – “France Commemorates Victims of Vel d’Hiv Roundup
Online Encylopedia of Mass ViolenceCase Study: The Vélodrome d’hiver Round-up: July 16 and 17, 1942

If you enjoyed Sarah’s Key, you might like…

Food Bonus! Check out The Book Club Cook Book for Sarah’s Key inspired recipes.

Book Club Kit: The Book Thief

Markus Zusak - The Book ThiefThe Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
First Published: 2006
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Liesel Meminger is only nine years old when she is taken to live with the Hubermanns, a foster family, on Himmel Street in Molching, Germany, in the late 1930s. She arrives with few possessions, but among them is The Grave Digger’s Handbook, a book that she stole from her brother’s burial place. During the years that Liesel lives with the Hubermanns, Hitler becomes more powerful, life on Himmel Street becomes more fearful, and Liesel becomes a fullfledged book thief. She rescues books from Nazi book-burnings and steals from the library of the mayor. Liesel is illiterate when she steals her fi rst book, but Hans Hubermann uses her prized books to teach her to read. This is a story of courage, friendship, love, survival, death, and grief. This is Liesel’s life on Himmel Street, told from Death’s point of view.

Reading Guide:
ReadingGroupGuides – Includes Critical Praise, Author Info, and Discussion Questions

Reviews:
The New York Times – “Stealing to Settle a Score with Life” by Janet Maslin and “Fighting for Their Lives” by John Green
The Guardian (UK) – “It’s a Steal” by Philip Ardagh
USA Today – “‘The Book Thief’ Rises Above Horrors of War” by Carol Memmott
The Washington Post – “The Power of Words” by Elizabeth Chang

On the Web:
Author’s Website – www.markuszusak.com
The Guardian (UK) – “Why I Write: Markus Zusak” interview by Sarah Kinson

If you enjoyed The Book Thief, you might like these:
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
City of Thieves (Book Club Kit) by David Benioff
Sarah’s Key (Book Club Kit) by Tatiana de Rosnay

Food Bonus!

Check out The Book Club Cook Book for Markus Zusak’s Vanilla Kipferl (aka Crescent Cookies) recipe!