The book provides a riveting account of the real-life exploits of William Dodd and his adventurous, amorous daughter Martha after Mr. Dodd in 1933 is dispatched as U.S. ambassador to Berlin, where Adolf Hitler and his henchmen are consolidating power, ruthlessly crushing their enemies and innocents.
The ambassador’s story would make for a superb book in its own right, but what makes this book unrivaled reading is Martha Dodd’s story. Although married, she is having often simultaneous affairs with a wild cast of characters including the head of the Nazi Gestapo, a Soviet spy, a French diplomat, and the author Thomas Wolfe. She even makes nice with Hitler, who gives her the eye and kisses her hand twice. During Martha’s four years in Germany, she goes from being a fanatical Nazi lover, literally and figuratively, to hating the Nazis after witnessing one horrific episode after another.
Ambassador Dodd, dismissed by many as a lightweight, initially has a soft spot for the Nazis, too – so much so, after Hitler kisses his daughter’s hand, Dodd half-jokingly tells Martha to never wash that hand again. Over time, Dodd turns into a harsh critic of the Nazis. In the end, FDR caves into pressure from the Nazis and Dodd’s envious and arrogant enemies in the State Department, replacing the ambassador with a pacifist who pushes for peace with Hitler at virtually any cost.
This terrific book stuck to my hands like glue; I could not put it down until I finished reading it. Surely it will be transformed into a blockbuster movie.