The Zookeeper's Wife
by Diane Ackerman (2007)
The "One Book, One San Diego" choice for 2009... I didn't realize it was non-fiction when I chose it from the stack; the story of a family and their Warsaw, Poland zoo during WWII, and how they not only survived but helped many Jewish families escape the Nazis. Well done, the horrors of war are reported without overdone drama and there is a very personal sense to the description of daily life under extremely stressful, unsettling conditions. And lots of cute stuff about animals. It does seem to drop in historical events, such as the Warsaw Uprising, without any prior mention or discussion, so background knowledge in the subject would help.
For some reason I've always had a soft spot for Poles and Jews, probably due to visiting the Dachau concentration camp and Anne Frank's house as a kid. I'm still mad at my sister for ruining a Polish flag shirt inspired by Lech Walesa that a girfriend had made me. grrrrr...
Now I need a good book on the Warsaw Underground and/or Uprising; will need to find Michener's Poland as well. Any suggestions?
...also read Swinging for the Fences, the inspirational life story of a local boy born with only one complete limb, who went to Notre Dame and works for the Padres.