Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman (review)

Title: The Zookeeper's Wife
Author: Diane Ackerman
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 368
Genre: Non-Fiction
Dewey Decimal: 940.53 1835 Ack
ISBN: 978-0-393-06172-7
Cost: $0

With the movie Defiance out in theaters, the library has a mini-display of World War II themed books, specifically those involving Jews. As I passed by, I noticed a book I had already read, The Zookeeper's Wife.

This was a poignant story about a zookeeper and his wife surviving Poland during the Nazi invasion. While moments of the book are sad, it is by no means as sad and heart-wrenching as Elie Wiesel's Night. That book still haunts me.

Ackerman instead balances out the hardships with the life that carried on during the Nazi occupation. The passages were sad when the purges began and the ghettos sprang up, but there was hope yet when the zoo itself served as a haven for not only the animals, but also Jews and the Underground that tried to protect them.

I think what I enjoyed most was that this book covered a part of the war that I have never been too enthused about. Maybe it was the common misconception that the Jews were merely victims and never fought back or maybe it was the lack of media outlets turning the Jewish Underground into a source of romantic hero-worship that the American and English troops saw in movies and books. Either way, I enjoyed learning more about an area and a people that were clearly active in the fight against the Nazis.

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