Through the Lion Gate

Through the Lion Gate : A History of the Berlin Zoo

3.86 (15 ratings by Goodreads)
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In 1943, fierce aerial bombardment razed the Berlin zoo and killed most of its animals. But only two months after the war's end, Berliners had already resurrected it, reopening its gates and creating a symbol of endurance in the heart of a shattered city. As this episode shows, the Berlin zoo offers one of the most unusual-yet utterly compelling-lenses through which to view German history. This enormously popular attraction closely mirrored each of the political
systems under which it existed: the authoritarian monarchy of the kaiser, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, and the post-1945 democratic and communist states.

Gary Bruce provides the first English-language history of the Berlin zoo, from its founding in 1844 until the 1990 unification of the West Berlin and East Berlin zoos. At the center of the capital's social life, the Berlin zoo helped to shape German views not only of the animal world but also of the human world for more than 150 years. Given its enormous reach, the German government used the zoo to spread its political message, from the ethnographic display of Africans, Inuit, and other
"exotic" peoples in the late nineteenth century to the Nazis' bizarre attempts to breed back long-extinct European cattle.

By exploring the intersection of zoology, politics, and leisure, Bruce shows why the Berlin zoo was the most beloved institution in Germany for so long: it allowed people to dream of another place, far away from an often grim reality. It is not purely coincidence that the profound connection of Berliners to their zoo intensified through the bloody twentieth century. Its exotic, iconic animals-including Rostom the elephant, Knautschke the hippo, and Evi the sun bear-seemed to satisfy, even
partially, a longing for a better, more tranquil world.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 163 x 242 x 26mm | 692g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 16 illus.
  • 0190234989
  • 9780190234980
  • 96,665

Table of contents


Chapter 1: Out from the Island of Peacocks
Chapter 2: The Human Zoo
Chapter 3: To the Zoo! Animals and Society in the Imperial Capital
Chapter 4: An End to the Sighing of the Animals
Chapter 5: The Nazi Ox: The Berlin Zoo and Nazism
Chapter 6: Animals among the Beasts: The Zoo Descends into War
Chapter 7: The Hippo and the Panda: A Tale of Two Zoos

Epilogue: Of Trams and Tortoises
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Review quote

Through the Lion Gate by Gary Bruce is a thoroughly engaging history of the zoo's development through time. * Ulrike Zitzlsperger, Times Higher Education * With Through the Lion Gate, the Canadian historian Gary Bruce has written the first comprehensive history of Germany's oldest and arguably most prestigious zoo in English. * Herman Reichenbach, Archives of Natural History Vol.45.1 * Bruce uncovers the many sinister sides of the zoo's history and the immense challenges during wartime. * Bernd Brunner Times Literary Supplement * Gary Bruce is certainly a captivating storyteller who keeps the reader interested from beginning to end. The book is geared toward a general audience interested in urban history or the cultural history of zoological gardens. It will also make for enticing reading for undergraduate and beginning graduate students. ... this is surely a highly readable book that adds to our knowledge of zoos as well as to the history of Berlin in the modern period. * Dorothee Brantz, Journal of Modern History * [Bruce] provides not only an ambitiously researched, convincingly written, and detailed history of the Berlin Zoological Garden, but an insightful study of Berlin and its people....Recommended. * CHOICE * With Through the Lion Gate: A History of the Berlin Zoo, historian Gary Bruce (The Firm) delivers a fascinating historical account of Berliners through the lens of their beloved zoo. Bruce's engaging narrative is complemented with photos of Bobby, Knut and other beloved animals; the Inuit and Nubian tribes; and the beautiful pagoda-style zoo architecture. * Shahina Piyarali, Shelf Awareness *
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About Gary Bruce

Gary Bruce is Professor of History at the University of Waterloo. Winner of a distinguished teacher award, he is the author of The Firm: The Inside Story of the Stasi and of numerous articles on modern German history.
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Rating details

15 ratings
3.86 out of 5 stars
5 13% (2)
4 60% (9)
3 27% (4)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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