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By the end of Chapter 4 of In the Garden of Beasts, do you believe Dodd was the...

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busylizzy15 | Honors

Posted April 26, 2013 at 4:18 PM via web

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By the end of Chapter 4 of In the Garden of Beasts, do you believe Dodd was the “right man” for the job of ambassador to Germany?  Why or why not?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 26, 2013 at 5:42 PM (Answer #1)

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I have changed your question to say “at the end of Chapter 4” instead of “at this point.”  I did so because this question is the last question in the Chapter 4 discussion questions provided by the publisher in the teacher’s guide to the book.  I hope my assumption is correct.

At the end of Chapter 4, it seems somewhat unlikely that Dodd is the right man for the job.  However, given that President Roosevelt had a very hard time finding anyone who wanted the job, it is not clear that anyone else who was willing to take the job would have been a better fit.

Dodd was a dubious choice for the job largely because of his background.  While it is true that he spent two years of graduate school in Germany, he was not a scholar of Germany.  His own work had to do with the American South in the pre-Civil War period.  This is not an ideal background for someone who will be the ambassador to Germany.

Furthermore, Dodd was not someone who was going to fit in well with the State Department people with whom he would need to work.  Put simply, he was not a member of America’s social elite.  As Larson says of the typical State Department personnel (this is on page 35)

Theirs was an elite realm to which only men of a certain pedigree could expect ready admission.

Since Dodd had no such pedigree, he was not going to fit in well with his colleagues.

Thus, Dodd did not really have the professional background or the social background that would seem to have been appropriate for an ambassador to Germany at this point in history. 

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