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The Zookeeper's Wife

A War Story

by Diane Ackerman

The Zookeeper's Wife
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2007, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2008, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva

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There are currently 3 reader reviews for The Zookeeper's Wife
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This Book Is Not Good (07/25/12)

Do Not Read This Book
I'm going to be a freshman in high school and I had to read this book for the summer. I HATE this book. All my friends have to read it too and they all hate it. My friends mom read it and she didn't like it either. So I do not recommend this book to anyone. I have to make myself read it. It is not enjoyable so out of a ten I give it a .5.
A Bookshelf Monstrosity (01/22/10)

Zookeeper's Wife
Ackerman pulls from Antonina Zabinski's extensive memoirs of her experiences in World War II Poland and from her own research on the topic to tell the story of the hundreds of Jews that passed through this particular stop on the Polish Underground. Although this book is highly informative and at times extremely touching, I found it hard to feel fully engaged. I don't really know why this is; I'm extremely interested in the Holocaust and I'd read some great reviews on the book. Initially, I thought maybe I had hit some sort of wall and have read too many books on the subject, but then remembered that I had just recently read and loved a new book on one of the most famous figures in Holocaust history, Anne Frank. I felt that the book was slightly rambling and didn't really stay on topic as I expected it to. Ackerman's research certainly shines through, although at times her attention to detail is perhaps too great. I struggled to finish this one.
J. Arnold (10/08/07)

Copiously Researched
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.
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