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Democrat and Diplomat: The Life of William E. Dodd [Kindle Edition]

Robert Dallek
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Robert Dallek, a luminary in the field of political biography--author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist Nixon and Kissinger and the New York Times bestselling biography of John F. Kennedy--offers here a look at the life of William Dodd, an American diplomat stationed in Nazi Germany. An insightful historical account, Democrat and Diplomat exposes the dark underbelly of 1930s Germany and explores the terrible burden of those who realized the horror that was to come.
Dodd was the U.S. Ambassador to Germany from 1933 to 1937, arriving in Berlin with his wife and daughter just as Hitler assumed the chancellorship. An unlikely candidate for the job--and not President Roosevelt's first choice--Dodd quickly came to realize that the situation in Germany was far grimmer than was understood in America. His early optimism was soon replaced by dire reports on the treatment of Jewish citizens and his pessimism about the future of Germany and Europe. Finding unwilling listeners back in the U.S., Dodd clashed repeatedly with the State Department, as well as the Nazi government, during his time as ambassador. He eventually resigned and returned to America, despairing and in ill-health.
Dodd's story was brought into public prominence last year by Erik Larsen's New York Times bestseller The Garden of Beasts. Dallek's biography, first published in 1968 and now in paperback for the first time, tells the full story of the man and his doomed years in the darkness of pre-War Berlin.

Editorial Reviews


Praise for Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945:

"A dazzling narrative...elegant...history on the grandest scale, embracing a world-wide cast of characters and all the continents....All the heroes and villains of the day before yesterday are alive again in these pages--particularly Churchill, Stalin, DeGaulle, and Chiang."--New York Times Book Review

"A book that will become a landmark in its field, indispensable to scholars and critical to our understanding of American foreign policy."--The New Republic

Acclaim for John F. Kennedy: An Unfinished Life:

"One of the most engrossing biographies I have ever read.... Nothing less than a masterpiece." --David Herbert Donald, author of Lincoln

"It's hard to believe that someone could find anything new to say about John F. Kennedy, but Dallek succeeds in this riveting and well-documented biography." --The New Yorker

"An intimate portrait indeed...unexpected and important.... This is nothing if not a profile in courage." --New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Robert Dallek is an Emeritus Professor at Boston University. He has won the Bancroft Prize and numerous other awards for scholarship and teaching. He is the author of many books, including Nixon and Kissinger, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963.

Product Details

  • File Size: 736 KB
  • Print Length: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; Reprint edition (September 28, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009NF6ZI4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #641,135 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Historical Biography May 27, 2011
The book "Democrat & Diplomat: The Life of William E. Dodd" by Robert Dallek was a wonderful book. I was searching for Mr. Dallek's previous works when his JFK and LBJ biographies came out. I found "Democrat and Diplomat" and discovered that it was his first book. The book takes the reader into the life of an American who has escaped the memory of most people, William E. Dodd. Mr. Dodd was the U.S. Ambassador to Germany when the Nazis were taking over German politics, government, and society. The book illustrates the difficulties of Mr. Dodd in his capacity as the Ambassador. Moreover, the book educates the reader as to Mr. Dodd's philosophy and his efforts during the Wilson/FDR era. A solid book that should get some more attention.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Prelude To A War November 16, 2012
What prompted me to read this book were two books that I read that share intesecting stories that provided a view of nazi Germany that lead to the United States eventual entry into WWII. In The Garden Of The Beasts by Eric Larson that provided a sweeping yet intimate view of the Dodds family and what was observed regarding the political situation in Germany that was building up to the war and the family's experiences beyond. The other book was a yet to be released about FDR's closest aide and advisor Harry Hopkins and his involvement with war planning and diplomacy.
This book looks at the life of William E. Dodds a college professor and historian, speech writer and biographer of Woodrow Wilson, and default choice for ambassador to Germany during FDR's first term in office. Aside from detailing academic qualifications and personal history, author Robert Dallek focuses a lot of his narrative on the issues initially concerning the United States interests that fell under the general functions of the ambassador and the more covert observations of the political and social situations that were evolving under the Third Reich and Adolph Hitler. Upon arrival in Germany,Dodd quickly became aware of a perfect storm of events that proved far worse than the diplomatic community had been aware. This book digs down and covers a labyrinth of issues and events that make this book a particularly good read while also discussing issues that lead to Dodd's retirement from public life.
This book serves as an interesting window into pre-WWII conditions in Germany and the reluctance of the U.S. to enter the war.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars William E. Dodd: A Misunderstood Diplomat June 2, 2013
By Gemma
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It was revealing to read this biography of William E. Dodd after having read Erik Larson's "In the Garden of Beasts," a currently popular volume about Dodd's time in Germany, which is making the women's book club circuit. Larson laces William Dodd's activities with the romantic escapades of his daughter, Martha Dodd. While this lightens up what could be a dry tale of Hitler's pre-World War Two Germany, one wonders how much of his writing about Dodd and his daughter is Larson's imagination.

Dallek's earlier, and well-documented work, is both illuminating and more trustworthy. In fact, Robert Dallek's book was a source for Larson. It is better written than Larson's acount and is much more fair to William E. Dodd.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Cheryl
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It was dull, very detailed, and difficult to follow. Understanding the author wrote this book as part of a PhD program, he should have taken a course to learn some writing skills. The only one I can think of who might be interested in it is someone doing scholarly study of Dodd or one of his ancesters.
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More About the Author

Robert Dallek is the author of Nixon and Kissinger, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, among other books. His writing has appeared in the The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Vanity Fair. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Society of American Historians, for which he served as president in 2004-2005. He lives in Washington, D.C.


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