Rated of 5
by J. Arnold
The beauty in Diane Ackerman's The Zookeeper's Wife lies in her attention to detail. She tells the story of Jan and Antonia Zabinski, the director of the Warsaw Zoo and his wife, during the Polish Occupation during WWII, with beautiful prose that stimulates all the reader's senses. The reader experiences the sensations of the two protagonists as they fight in the Underground and use the zoo as a station for the passage of Jewish citizens escaping the Nazis. Ackerman recreates a story of heroism into a story of human nature, particularly in Antonia. Antonia - as the lioness that guards the family villa and its 300 or so Guests - must face off with German soldiers and SS agents while feeding the household (pets included) and always facing the fear of being discovered. Using Antonia's diaries, her children books, Jan's interviews, face-to-face interviews with survivors, and other sources, Ackerman weaves a beautiful story. The story of WWII and the Holocaust is often the background for literature - fiction and nonfiction - but this book stands out as a testament to the beauty of people like Antonia and Jan.