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With poetic irony, Ackermantells the little-known true story of two zookeepers in 1930s Warsaw, Poland. Their world-view and extraordinary compassion led them to save hundreds of Jews imperiled by the Nazi invasion. This heroic narrative highlights contradictions of vulnerability and strength, good in the face of loss, and the rich compatibility of beauty and sadness.
The New York Times bestseller now a major motion picture starring Jessica Chastain.
1939: the Germans have invaded Poland. The keepers of the Warsaw zoo, Jan and Antonina Zabinski, survive the bombardment of the city, only to see the occupiers ruthlessly kill many of their animals. The Nazis then carry off the prized specimens to Berlin for their program to create the “purest” breeds, much as they saw themselves as the purest human race. Opposed to all the Nazis represented, the Zabinskis risked their lives by hiding Jews in the now-empty animal cages, saving as many as three hundred people from extermination. Acclaimed, best-selling author Diane Ackerman, fascinated both by the Zabinskis’ courage and by Antonina’s incredible sensitivity to all living beings, tells a moving and dramatic story of the power of empathy and the strength of love.
A Focus Features release, it is directed by Niki Caro, written by Angela Workman.
About the Author
Diane Ackerman has been the finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction in addition to many other awards and recognitions for her work, which include the best-selling The Zookeeper's Wife and A Natural History of the Senses. She lives in Ithaca, New York.
Here is a true story—of human empathy and its opposite—that is simultaneously grave and exuberant, wise and playful. Ackerman has a wonderful tale to tell, and she tells it wonderfully.
Poignant…This is an absorbing book.
I can’t imagine a better story or storyteller. The Zookeeper’s Wife will touch every nerve you have.
— Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything is Illuminated
It is no stretch to say that this is the book Ackerman was meant to write.
Diane Ackerman has surpassed even herself in her latest book, which is alternatingly funny, moving, and terrifying. This powerful thriller would be a great novel—except that it is true. — Jared Diamond