Lara's Reviews > The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
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I have checked this book out of the library several times and I finally have gotten around to reading it. I mostly had other books that maintained my interest more. I wanted very much to like this book, as I tend to like reading non-fiction about the Holocaust and World War 2. This book approaches topics in the field I was less familiar with, specifically: the German occupation of Poland and the Warsaw Ghetto. Ackerman approaches subjects I am more familiar with: the history of zoos, zoo care, (having worked in a zoo myself) and the hiding of Jews during the Holocaust (having read the Diary of Ann Frank.

I feel like Ackerman took on too much subject matter to approach in this book. The information that she presented was scattered and I find her writing dry. Her approach to the book had given some charming stories in the portions of the book that I did read, however, with her writing style it certainly seems that she would be better writing a shorter piece, rather than a longer book.

In the Zookeeper's Wife, Ackerman had wanted to touch on a Polish zoo that was destroyed during the German airstrikes on Poland prior to their occupation. During the occupation, the family who owned the zoo lost the remaining animals in the zoo to German research or they were slaughtered on sight. Following this, the family began to take in Jewish families and hide them in the cages from the Nazis. It was this topic that I was interested in, and the reason why I had originally gotten the book out from the library. The downside was that she continuously strayed too much with the subject matter.

A lot of the information that she provided about the war, I felt was cliched and there were stories about the family or the neighborhood that didn't progress the topic line at all. She wrote about how the Nazis wanted to produce their own Aryan races with animals as well as humans and some animals that were confiscated from this zoo were sent to Germany to support that. I would have liked to known more about what the Nazis had done, to that contingent.

I found the book for the most part hard to follow because it was all over the place with no real drive. It was due at the library, and I had the option to renew it, but I wasn't so attached to it that I felt I should have renewed it, mostly because I didn't have a super strong interest in finishing the book. Ackerman had used quotes from family diaries, which may provide more information along the topics I have an interest in.

It seems like a lot of people did like this book, it was just hard for me to maintain an interest. I didn't love it after 150 pages, and didn't feel like it was going to improve over the next half of the book. I may try it again later, when I have less books on my library list now, which always seems to be a problem.

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Reading Progress

01/18/2012 page 140
38.0% "I'm finding this book providing some interesting information, however, it's really spread out. I find the writing to be dry most of the time."

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