by Diane Ackerman
I was extremely impressed by this book. We read it for book group and I didn't think that I was going to truly enjoy it. But there were so many things to learn from it. It is the story of the Warsaw Zoo and its keepers during the bombing of World War II. It describes vividly all of the things that Polish people dealt with on a regular basis. It made clear to me that it wasn't just a Jewish Holocaust. Not to downplay that aspect of it, but Hitler was seeking to 'perfect' the human race to an Aryan race. That meant that anyone who did not look Aryan should be annihilated. That included Poland.
One of my favorite aspects of this book was the comparison between humans and animals. Being with animals all the time, she noted that many of the animals could be trained to be human. It would take 5 or 6 months for a badger to learn to come to his name, to eat with humans to ask to go to the bathroom. This particular badger even began to use a little training toilet for toddlers. But, what's the most horrible of all, is that it takes only a few moments, less than hours, for humans to become animal-like, shooting and killing others for gain.
Although this book was interesting, it became long at certain parts. One part I remember in particular was where they listed all the animals of the zoo, for 4 pages. Some of that information can get kind of wordy, but if you just kind of skip past it, you learn to love it. It's so great to read a World War II book from a Polish perspective.