Monday, February 23, 2009

The Zookeeper's Wife

Ackerman, Diane. The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story. New York: W.W. Norton, 2007.

Plot Summary
As this is non-fiction, there's not really a plot. Ackerman tells the story of Jan and Antonina Zabinski (Warsaw zookeepers) that aided the Underground and managed to save many people during the German occupation of Poland. Ackerman uses Antonina's diary as a primary source.

My Thoughts
I thought I would enjoy this book much more than I did. reading the book jacket piqued my interest. Ackerman includes historically accurate details, and at times I felt like I could hear the bombs dropping on my own house. However, the book seemed to drag on and included little "side stories" that I didn't think needed to be there. I do feel like I have a better understanding of what happened in Warsaw during WWII. I also enjoyed learning about what happened to zoo animals when bombs destroyed their homes. I've never really thought about it before now. I've read about cities being destroyed, but Ackerman relates more details than I've ever learned with a history text.

I was disappointed in Chapter 35 entitled "Aftermath" because there was no transition from Chapter 34 to 35. Ackerman tells us what happened after German troops left Warsaw, but this chapter seems to stand alone. Chapter 35 relates how the author came to gather information for the book, but the information is rushed. Chapter 36 begins by describing Bialowieza, the "awe-inspiring landscape" that "inspired many European fairy tales and myths" (Ackerman 318). After reading almost 300 pages, I expected something different at the end.

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