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Monday, April 29, 2013

Fourth Gold Country Nonfiction Mini-Retreat

Presented by the Great Books Council of San Francisco
May 11, 2013, Mercy Center in Auburn, CA

The Auburn Great Books group invites you to discuss Erik Larson’s award-winning nonfiction novel of an American family in Berlin during Hitler’s rise.

Larson’s story reads like a thriller with compelling historic detail. In the Garden of Beasts is a vivid portrait of Berlin during the first years of Hitler’s reign, brought to life through the stories of two people: William E. Dodd, who in 1933 became America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s regime, and his scandalously carefree daughter, Martha. Ambassador Dodd, an unassuming and scholarly man, is an odd fit among the extravagance of the Nazi elite. His frugality annoys his fellow Americans in the State Department and Dodd’s growing misgivings about Hitler’s ambitions fall on deaf ears among his peers, who are content to “give Hitler everything he wants.” Martha, on the other hand, is mesmerized by the glamorous parties and the high-minded conversation of Berlin’s salon society—and flings herself headlong into numerous affairs with the city’s elite, most notably the head of the Gestapo and a Soviet spy. Both become players in the exhilarating (and terrifying) story of Hitler’s obsession for absolute power, which culminates in the events of one murderous night, later known as “the Night of Long Knives.” The rise of Nazi Germany is a well-chronicled time in history, which makes In the Garden of Beasts all the more remarkable. Erik Larson has crafted a gripping, deeply-intimate narrative with a climax that reads like the best political thriller, where we are stunned with each turn of the page, even though we already know the outcome. ---Shane Hansanuwat

We meet at the Mercy Center, 535 Sacramento Street, Auburn, CA 95603. Check-in on
Saturday, May 11th at 9:30 a.m. Book discussion is from 10 a.m. to noon. Lunch is served on location, and is included in the $35 registration. After lunch, the academy award-winning film, Cabaret, will be viewed and discussed.  The film stars Liza Minelli, Joel Grey, with Bob Fosse directing the film and music. We conclude by 4:30 p.m.

Take this opportunity to see California’s historic gold country when the hills and gardens are at their greenest. Donna Reynolds, Auburn Registrar, has recommendations for local motels and restaurants, and she usually offers a piano medley to our day.

Saturday, May 11, 2013, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.  Cost:  $35 per person including lunch.  For more information call Donna at (916) 797-8561 or go to .  For a registration form CLICK HERE.