The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
A War Story

66%

12 Critic Reviews

As heroic stories go, it should be up there with Schindler's Ark, but there's something oddly creepy about the way Ackerman, a naturalist, seems to care as much, possibly more, about the animals dying as about the residents of the ghetto being transported to Treblinka.
-Guardian

Synopsis

The New York Times bestseller soon to be a major motion picture starring Jessica Chastain.


A true story in which the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands.


After their zoo was bombed, Polish zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski managed to save over three hundred people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages. With animal names for these "guests," and human names for the animals, it's no wonder that the zoo's code name became "The House Under a Crazy Star." Best-selling naturalist and acclaimed storyteller Diane Ackerman combines extensive research and an exuberant writing style to re-create this fascinating, true-life story—sharing Antonina's life as "the zookeeper's wife," while examining the disturbing obsessions at the core of Nazism. Winner of the 2008 Orion Award.
 

About Diane Ackerman

See more books from this Author
Diane Ackerman is the best-selling author of The Zookeeper's Wife, A Natural History of the Senses, and many other books.
 
Published September 17, 2008 by W. W. Norton & Company. 369 pages
Genres: History, Travel, War, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Critic reviews for The Zookeeper's Wife
All: 12 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 4

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Apr 12 2007

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.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by D. T. MAX on Sep 09 2007

This is an absorbing book, diminished sometimes by the choppy way Ackerman balances Antonina’s account with the larger story of the Warsaw Holocaust. For me, the more interesting story is Antonina’s.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Sue Arnold on Feb 06 2009

As heroic stories go, it should be up there with Schindler's Ark, but there's something oddly creepy about the way Ackerman, a naturalist, seems to care as much, possibly more, about the animals dying as about the residents of the ghetto being transported to Treblinka.

Read Full Review of The Zookeeper's Wife: A War S... | See more reviews from Guardian

Financial Times

Below average
Reviewed by Eva Hoffman on May 23 2008

...amid the book’s errant anecdotes and baroque metaphors, the moral force of the central story is lost. The Zabinskis’ work must have required sustained courage, careful strategy and difficult decisions. None of these are given proper weight.

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Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Carole Turner on Jan 24 2011

Antonina's story is testimony that fear can be overcome by courage and that good can triumph over evil. The spirit of one dedicated, Christian Polish woman and her love of animals and mankind shine through the pages of this intriguing book.

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Jennifer Reese on Sep 07 2007

Ackerman has trouble staying focused on her central characters, digressing so often that you sometimes lose the narrative thread. But what odd, captivating digressions these are...

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USA Today

Good
Reviewed by Carol Memmott on Oct 01 2007

...Diane Ackerman offers us The Zookeeper's Wife, a tale of untold bravery with a whimsical dose of history reminiscent of Noah's Ark.

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USA Today

Above average
Reviewed by Carol Memmott on Oct 01 2007

Just when you thought you had heard every story there is to tell about World War II, author Diane Ackerman offers us The Zookeeper's Wife, a tale of untold bravery with a whimsical dose of history reminiscent of Noah's Ark.

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Deseret News

Good
Reviewed by Dennis Lythgoe on Sep 09 2007

Using Antonina Zabinska's diary and "loose notes," the prolific Diane Ackerman in "The Zookeeper's Wife" tells the true story of two Christian zookeepers in the Warsaw Zoo who saved up to 300 people from the Nazis...This is a book everyone interested in humanity should read.

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Book Buzz

Good
Reviewed by Gloria Fogal on Nov 03 2008

Diane Ackerman does a beautiful job of telling this true story, a tale of amazing courage in the midst of the worst brutality imaginable.

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World War II Database

Good
Reviewed by C. Peter Chen on Sep 18 2010

I would highly recommend The Zookeeper's Wife for it offered many alternative viewpoints that complimented other books about the WW2-era Europe. To call this book a "diversion" definitely would not do it justice, but it really offered a great change of pace from my typical readings filled with tactics, technology, and chronologies.

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Financial Times

Below average
Reviewed by Eva Hoffman on May 23 2008

...more often, amid the book’s errant anecdotes and baroque metaphors, the moral force of the central story is lost. The Zabinskis’ work must have required sustained courage, careful strategy and difficult decisions. None of these are given proper weight.

Read Full Review of The Zookeeper's Wife: A War S... | See more reviews from Financial Times

Reader Rating for The Zookeeper's Wife
68%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 499 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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