This week’s read kept me turning the pages, except when naturalist Diane Ackerman’s marvelous digressions into botany, linguistics, and Nazi Germany’s monstrous goals to reprogram the entire genome of the planet stopped me in my tracks.

Ackerman recounts the heroism of Jan and Antonina Zabinski, Polish Christian zookeepers who, right under the noses of their Nazi occupiers, turned their zoo in into a veritable ark that saved the lives of over three hundred Jews and resistance fighters. Within the “The House Under a Crazy Star” human Guests received animal names, animals were called by human names and all beings, both two legged and four, co-existed in relative harmony and tenuous safety for the duration of the war.

This spellbinding story of courage and ingenuity in the face of Hitler’s Final Solution is a lyrical and unusual addition to the ever-expanding shelves of Holocaust literature.

Check it out.