Today I have a review of The Hollow Bones by Leah Kaminsky. So far, this book has only been released in Australia, and the author mailed me a complimentary copy from there. A big thank you to Leah Kaminsky!
I hope we begin to see this beautiful book available in other countries! Last thing, it is available as a Kindle download on Amazon AU, and some in the US have been able to download that way.
Also, this is the one time that Hemingway the Bengal sat for pictures. I’m so grateful he’s in this particular picture.
In 1938 Berlin, before the war has started, Ernst Schafer, a zoologist, is discovered by Heinrich Himmler, who is forming a group of scientists. Their goal: to travel to Tibet and find the origins of the Aryan race.
The story is told through the eyes of Herat, Schafer’s wife. Kaminsky used photographs, diaries, letters, and films to piece together this compelling story.
After the mission, when Schafer and the group return to Berlin, he is viewed as a celebrity and larger than life. The next step for him involves a job at Dachau observing and filming medical experiments on Himmler’s orders.
The Hollow Bones is a chilling story, though Gerta, Ernst’s wife, offers some lightness because she is a kind person and unsure of all that is about to happen. She has her own road to travel becoming a respectful Nazi wife even though she has qualms with their beliefs. She also struggles with her feelings about her husband as he becomes more involved, but she also still sees his strengths.
There were parts of this book, as with any Holocaust book, that were extremely difficult to read due to the nature of the events. I read this book slowly, thinking, feeling, and absorbing as I turned each page.
The Hollow Bones follows Ernst all the way to the end of his life, and one must read it to find out if he is punished and how. Leah Kaminsky has penned a gripping, well-written, heartrending work of historical fiction with another perspective on the Holocaust, from that of a zoologist turned SS scientist. It’s a story of love, loss, grief, greed, and ambition.
I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
About the Book:
Berlin, 1938. The eve of war. Ernst Schäfer, a young, ambitious zoologist, keen hunter and devoted husband of the beautiful Herta, has come to the attention of Heinrich Himmler, who invites him to lead a group of SS scientists to the frozen mountains of Tibet. Their secret mission: to search for the origins of the Aryan race. For Schäfer, the personal consequences of failure are unthinkable, yet little does he know this outlandish expedition will become a prelude to the unimaginable horror soon to overrun Europe.
Using material discovered in field diaries, letters, films, photographs and secret documents, the novel tells the story behind Schäfer through the eyes of his ill-fated lover, Herta. Nazism proved a convenient short-cut to personal glory for Schäfer, who, accompanied by a group of SS scientists, trekked across inhospitable, treacherous terrain on a mission to conduct experiments to ‘prove’ Nordic heritage. In 1939, the team was flown out of India on Himmler’s flying boats. Schäfer was an instant celebrity on his return to Berlin and, at just twenty-eight, he became one of the most celebrated men in Hitler’s Reich. But his world was about to change, as science was enlisted for racial murder and Himmler sent Schäfer to Dachau to observe and film medical experiments.
The Hollow Bones explores how quickly human relationships and an affinity with nature can be buried under cold ambition.
Have you read The Hollow Bones, or is it on your TBR? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR