The Zookeeper's Wife

The Zookeeper's Wife

A War Story

eBook - 2008
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The true story of how 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 Żabiński began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the Żabińskis' 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--and keeping alive an atmosphere of play and innocence even as Europe crumbled around her.--From publisher description.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, [2008]
Edition: First paperback edition
Copyright Date: ©2007
ISBN: 9780393069358
Branch Call Number: E-BOOK
Characteristics: 1 online resource (368 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates) : illustrations
text file

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Mar 27, 2018

Back when Jerry Springer had a serious talk show (real topics with real guests), he had an episode where he reunited Jews who sought escape from the Holocaust with the families who risked their lives to shelter them until the war was over. At the end of the episode, Springer related the story of his parents' escape from Amsterdam to London ... and concluded by saying that real heroes aren't those who are in the line of duty or help people get out of burning cars. "Sometimes," he said, "they just open their doors."

"The Zookeeper's Wife" tells the story of two of the many "Righteous Gentiles" who put their careers and lives on the line to help Jews, in this case occupied Poland ... where the mere act of giving a Jew a glass of water earned one the death penalty. Having had their zoo's animals raided by the Nazis shortly after the occupation, the couple decided to open their doors to more than 300 people, mostly Jews but also some resistance fighters - and the creative ways they made sure their guests stayed alive. Antonina Żabińska has sometimes been called the female Oskar Schindler, and her story would be incredible except for the fact it is true.

A great story about heroism in the darkest places and times, although it is graphic at times.

Mar 05, 2018

As I'm in the middle of this book, that it is so difficult to get through to the next page and finally reading reviews on it I'm realizing I should have done that first. I knew this was a great book from this background but the author makes this a very very very difficult read.

Feb 20, 2018

I read a lot of books from this time period, but this is the first one that I definitely struggled to finish. The writing style was full of historical 'don't necessarily need-to-know' facts surrounded by suppositions about what the main characters 'may have' said or done. I haven't seen the movie, but maybe I would enjoy it more than I did the book.

Oct 29, 2017

A look a WWII through the eyes of the Zoo and people in Warsaw, Poland. Devastating details portrayed. Sometimes I got lost in this book. The details of personalities and the depths people went to help their fellow citizens was enlightening and heartwarming. People can be resilient and resourceful. Good thankfully out does evil but at such a high price. Maybe this is obvious from WWII history but in todays' world it seems important to be reminded.

Aug 28, 2017

I, too, drown in the details, very difficult to follow. Author's writing style was boring. The book was mostly a study in zoology. However, there were interesting historical facts. The movie was better.

Aug 15, 2017

I drowned in the details... more of a sort of non-fiction presentation than a story; not well laid out somehow. I look forward to the movie as hopefully they get more story and less fact based in the presentation.

Aug 09, 2017

This was a book of missed opportunities. The premise offered fertile ground for characters escaping the Nazis. Instead it was a study in zoology. How were they hidden or secreted. That became a secondary plot. Never warmed up to the characters. In no way could this novel be compared to Schindler's List. Very disappointing

Aug 05, 2017

Thought the book was okay but it did not think it conveyed how horrific the crimes really were. I never had the the sense that losses were that devastating to the characters. it was just like they accepted what happened and moved on. However, maybe that was all they could do.

Jul 27, 2017

Found the author's writing style distracting and boring. The author seems to want to educate the reader on her background research, as well as on the characteristics of the various zoo animals in addition to writing about the zookeeper and his wife. It just doesn't work. Maybe it gets better ...I gave up after a couple of chapters.

Jul 25, 2017

After reading several critics comments I feel compelled to observe that I didn't feel as critical about the pacing or writing style because I thought the author was writing in what she felt was Antonina's voice and style. She is the heroine of the story. My overall impression is that I was glad to read about situations experienced by Polish people during World War II who were not in the military, not politicians and not among the wealthy. Also, It was surprising to learn that, in the midst of war, there were those who were as concerned with the survival and safety of the zoo population as the war refugees.

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AbigailCurious Jan 27, 2015

Violence: It describes the brutality of the nazis, sometimes in great detail.

AbigailCurious Jan 27, 2015

Frightening or Intense Scenes: It has moments where you can be truly frightened, and believing that characters may have died.


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AbigailCurious Jan 27, 2015

AbigailCurious thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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Apr 24, 2017

“Dozens of statues and monuments grace Warsaw's streets, because Poland is a country half submerged in its heavily invaded past, fed by progress, but always partly mourning.” - p. 322


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