The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story

By Diane Ackerman
Binding:Paperback
Publisher:W.W. Norton & Co., (9/17/2008)
Language:English



Average Rating:
DEFINITELY Unleash it
5.00 out of 5 (1 Clubie's ratings)


Buy Now From
buy it now from Amazon
buy it now from Barns and Noble
buy it now from Indie Bookstore


 

The New York Times bestseller: a true story in which the keepers of the Warsaw zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands. When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the Zabinskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants—otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes.

With her exuberant prose and exquisite sensitivity to the natural world, Diane Ackerman engages us viscerally in the lives of the zoo animals, their keepers, and their hidden visitors. She shows us how Antonina refused to give in to the penetrating fear of discovery, keeping alive an atmosphere of play and innocence even as Europe crumbled around her.

Like this book? Then you might also like these...

 
 

lynnette's thoughts on "The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story"
updated on:5/28/2009

This book is about the wife of a zookeeper in Warsaw, Poland during the nazi occupation. It is based on a true story of survival. Antonina and her husband Jan saved more than 300 people in an elaborate underground system within the zoo walls. I like the book and although I have not read any of her other books, I am now compelled to do so.

DEFINITELY Unleash it


"The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story"
By Diane Ackerman

Average Rating:
DEFINITELY Unleash it
5.00 out of 5 (1 Clubie's ratings)


The Gentleman
The Gentleman
By Forrest Leo

 
 
 General reading guide discussion questions to be used with ANY book your book club or reading group might be discussing.
 
 
Clubie Submitted Discussion Questions
Have a good question? If your a clubie add one now.
 
 
Amazon.com Review
Amazon Significant Seven, September 2007: On the heels of Alan Weisman's The World Without Us I picked up Diane Ackerman's The Zookeeper’s Wife. Both books take you to Poland's forest primeval, the Bialowieza, and paint a richly textured portrait of a natural world that few of us would recognize. The similarities end there, however, as Ackerman explores how that sense of natural order imploded under the Nazi occupation of Poland. Jan and Antonina Zabiniski--keepers of the Warsaw Zoo who sheltered Jews from the Warsaw ghetto--serve as Ackerman's lens to this moment in time, and she weaves their experiences and reflections so seamlessly into the story that it would be easy to read the book as Antonina's own miraculous memoir. Jan and Antonina's passion for life in all its diversity illustrates ever more powerfully just how narrow the Nazi worldview was, and what tragedy it wreaked. The Zookeeper’s Wife is a powerful testament to their courage and--like Irene Nemirovsky's Suite Francaise--brings this period of European history into intimate view. --Anne Bartholomew

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition. 

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Ackerman (A Natural History of the Senses) tells the remarkable WWII story of Jan Zabinski, the director of the Warsaw Zoo, and his wife, Antonina, who, with courage and coolheaded ingenuity, sheltered 300 Jews as well as Polish resisters in their villa and in animal cages and sheds. Using Antonina's diaries, other contemporary sources and her own research in Poland, Ackerman takes us into the Warsaw ghetto and the 1943 Jewish uprising and also describes the Poles' revolt against the Nazi occupiers in 1944. She introduces us to such varied figures as Lutz Heck, the duplicitous head of the Berlin zoo; Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, spiritual head of the ghetto; and the leaders of Zegota, the Polish organization that rescued Jews. Ackerman reveals other rescuers, like Dr. Mada Walter, who helped many Jews pass, giving lessons on how to appear Aryan and not attract notice. Ackerman's writing is viscerally evocative, as in her description of the effects of the German bombing of the zoo area: ...the sky broke open and whistling fire hurtled down, cages exploded, moats rained upward, iron bars squealed as they wrenched apart. This suspenseful beautifully crafted story deserves a wide readership. 8 pages of illus. (Sept.) 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition. 

From Booklist
*Starred Review* Jan Zabinski, the innovative director of the Warsaw Zoo, and Antonina, his empathic wife, lived joyfully on the zoo grounds during the 1930s with their young son, Ryszard (Polish for lynx), and a menagerie of animals needing special attention. The zoo was badly damaged by the Nazi blitzkrieg, and their bit of paradise would have been utterly destroyed but for the director of the Berlin Zoo, Lutz Heck, who wanted Jan's help in resurrecting extinct "pure-blooded species" in pursuit of Aryan perfection in the animal kingdom. Resourceful and courageous, the Zabinskis turned the decimated zoo into a refuge and saved the lives of several hundred imperiled Jews. Ackerman has written many stellar works, including A Natural History of the Senses (1990) and An Alchemy of Mind (2004), but this is the book she was born to write. Sharing the Zabinskis' knowledge of and reverence for the natural world and drawing on her poet's gift for dazzling metaphor, she captures with breathtaking precision and discernment our kinship with animals, the barbarity of war, Antonina's unbounded kindness and keen delight in "life's sensory bazaar," Jan's daring work with the Polish Underground, and the audacity of the Zabinskis' mission of mercy. An exemplary work of scholarship and an "ecstasy of imagining," Ackerman's affecting telling of the heroic Zabinskis' dramatic story illuminates the profound connection between humankind and nature, and celebrates life's beauty, mystery, and tenacity. Seaman, Donna --This text refers to the Hardcover edition. 

Review
A true story—of human empathy and its opposite—that is simultaneously grave and exuberant, wise and playful. -- Washington Post Book World

Ackerman...makes beautiful work of harrowing tales of [her characters'] determination to keep souls alive, in the actual and metaphorical sense both. -- New York Daily News

An inspiring read...may join Schindler's List and Hotel Rwanda as popular accounts of heroism in the face of genocide. -- Salt Lake Tribune

Fresh and compelling....Ackerman has succeeded in a vivid, cinematically written book that's bound to find its way to the screen. -- San Francisco Chronicle

It's a tribute to her talent that the book feels both triumphant and inevitable by the last page. -- Orion 
How can we make BookBundlz even better? Tell us what you think would make this website teh best for book clubs, reading groups and book lovers alike!
 
 
 
 Apple iTunes

 
 
Diane Ackerman is the best-selling author of A Natural History of the Senses and many other books, most recently the best-selling The Zookeeper’s Wife. She lives in Ithaca, New York, and Palm Beach, Florida.


Also, Don't Miss BB's
Author News Page!
Look for advice on everything from how to get your book published to promoted. We are looking to help you get the word out about your book!

 
 
Check out our...

of the Month


Gifts