Excerpt from The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Zookeeper's Wife

A War Story

by Diane Ackerman

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman X
The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2007, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2008, 368 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Heck agreed, aspiring to nothing less than recasting Germany’s natural world, cleansing it, polishing it, perfecting it. A true believer from the first stirrings of Nazism, Heck ingratiated himself with the SS, imbibed Fischer’s and Lorenz’s beliefs about racial purity, and became a favorite with Hitler and, especially, Hermann Göring, his ideal patron. In this sanitary utopia, Heck’s job, essentially, was to reinvent nature, and he found Göring a generous patron with deep pockets. In return, Heck wanted to give Göring dominion over Poland’s greatest natural treasure, the fantastic lost-in-time preserve on the Polish-Belarussian border, Bial/owiezÿa. As Heck appreciated, it made the ultimate gift for a man who stamped his coat of arms on most possessions and liked to dress in "pseudomedieval outfits of long leather jerkins, soft top boots, and voluminous silk shirts, and go marching around his house and estate carrying a spear." Many aristocrats held key positions in the Nazi Party and most of the high command owned hunting lodges or estates, so an important facet of Heck’s job was bagging the best hunting preserves and stocking them in novel ways. Dotted with medieval castles, inheritor of Europe’s only primeval forest, Poland boasted some of the finest hunting on the continent. Prewar photographs place Göring at his sumptuously appointed hunting lodge northeast of Berlin, on an estate stretching to the Baltic, complete with a 16,000-acre private preserve which he stocked with elk, deer, wild boar, antelope, and other game animals.

More broadly, the Nazis were ardent animal lovers and environmentalists who promoted calisthenics and healthy living, regular trips into the countryside, and far-reaching animal rights policies as they rose to power. Göring took pride in sponsoring wildlife sanctuaries ("green lungs") as both recreation and conservation areas, and carving out great highways flanked by scenic vistas. That appealed to Lutz Heck as it did to many other world-class scientists, such as physicist Werner Heisenberg, biologist Karl von Frisch, and rocket designer Wernher von Braun. Under the Third Reich, animals became noble, mythic, almost angelic—including humans, of course, but not Slavs, Gypsies, Catholics, or Jews. Although Mengele’s subjects could be operated on without any painkillers at all, a remarkable example of Nazi zoophilia is that a leading biologist was once punished for not giving worms enough anesthesia during an experiment.

Reprinted from The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman. Copyright (c) 2007 by Diane Ackerman. With permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: La Belle Sauvage
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...
  • Book Jacket: Killers of the Flower Moon
    Killers of the Flower Moon
    by David Grann
    Voted 2017 Best Nonfiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    The long, sorrowful list of injustices done ...
  • Book Jacket: The Dry
    The Dry
    by Jane Harper
    Voted 2017 Best Debut Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    After receiving a letter from his childhood...
  • Book Jacket: Little Fires Everywhere
    Little Fires Everywhere
    by Celeste Ng
    Voted 2017 Best Fiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    Small towns, big drama. Acclaimed author ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

"Electrifying . . . as beautiful and as icy as the Minnesota woods where it's set."
—NPR

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Story of Arthur Truluv
    by Elizabeth Berg

    An emotionally powerful novel from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Autumn

Autumn by Ali Smith

One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, and a Man Booker Prize Finalist

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.