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The Hollow Bones Winner of the 2019 International Book Awards in Literary Fiction Historical FictionThe Hollow Bones implores us to pay careful attention to the crucial lessons we might learn from our not too distant history'I remember you once told me about mockingbirds and their special talents for mimicry They steal the songs from others you said I want to ask you this how were our own songs stolen from us the notes dispersed while our faces were turned away'Berlin 1936 Ernst Schäfer a young ambitious zoologist and keen hunter and collector 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 Ernst has doubts initially but soon seizes the opportunity to rise through the ranks of the Third ReichWhile Ernst prepares for the trip he marries Herta his childhood sweetheart But Herta a flautist who refuses to play from the songbook of womanhood and marriage under the Reich grows increasingly suspicious of Ernst and his expeditionWhen Ernst and his colleagues finally leave Germany in 1938 they realise the world has its eyes fixed on the horror they have left behind in their homelandA lyrical and poignant cautionary tale The Hollow Bones brings to life one of the Nazi regime’s little known villains through the eyes of the animals he destroyed and the wife he undermined in the name of science and cold ambition

About the Author: Leah Kaminsky

Leah Kaminsky is a physician and award winning writer Her debut novel The Waiting Room won the Voss Literary Prize and was shortlisted for the Helen Asher Award The Hollow Bones won the 2019 International Book Awards in both Historical Fiction & Literary Fiction Categories The Fish Council will be published in 2020 We’re all Going to Die has been described as ‘a joyful book about death’ She

10 thoughts on “The Hollow Bones

  1. Elyse Walters Elyse Walters says:

    NEW UPDATE many thanks to GoodReads friend Marjorie she just sent me a note saying that anyone who wants to purchase this book can go to Australia She included the link in her message I received but I don’t know how to do thatI’m sure most of you can figure it out 🥰The book in Australia as a Kindle download is selling for 1499 I hope this was a little bit helpful It’s a terrific book and several of us are still hoping there will be a release of this book in the United States Thanks 💕Update this book is now available to purchase I can’t recommend it enoughAbsolutely PHENOMENAL I’m blown away Review to follow soon UPDATE “The Hollow Bones” is a realistic nightmarish cautionary tale handled with ethical contour precise with vivid details INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS human animal relations ferociously intelligent crucial thought provoking dialogue and clear documented forgotten history of a forgotten villain during Nazi regimesLeah Kaminsky’s sheer breath of knowledge and research is mind blowing ambitiouswith some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever read When she writes about nature she can give even a couch potato goosebumps Learning about this disturbing bizarre story doesn’t leave your thoughts easily It’s a significant novel – genuinely phenomenal – emotionally wrenching mystery suspense with indelible characters Wondering about the bird on the cover? It’s a Hoopoe They are colorful birds found across Afro Eurasia They are notable for their distinctive ‘crown’ feathers and make hoooo poooo repetitive sounds Birds that fly have Hollow Bones a few of the characters have hollow souls With past childhood coming of age of stories and present narrative Nazi power influence there’s a past story about the Hoopoe that’s hard to shakeA few other hard scenes to shake past present but the overall storytelling echoes birdsong redemptive beautyand grotesue hard to understand why situationsvery important to examineasking us the reader to uestion science politics nature and humanity WITHOUT SPOILERS a little about the plot and characters Ernst Schäfer a zoologist explorer hunter collector professor of ornithology specialized in rare Tibetan birds We ‘examine’ his character from beginning to end My stomach heart and mind was magnetically hooked in thinking about Schäfer from boyhood to adult Heinrich Himmler a leading member of the Nazi party invites Schäfer who had been in Tibet before but was in Philadelphia at the time to return to Berlin so that he could assign less of an invitation than an order Schäfer back to Tibet on a secret mission in the holy area of Tibet called Lhasa He was to be the team leader and would have the best hand picked German scientists to join him We get to know each member on the team too The expedition in 1938 through British India to the sacred mountains of Tibet was mysterious and sinister Under orders from Himmler the team of scientists were to find proof of a bizarre historical fantasy lay the groundwork for a global political and military strategy and pinpoint the origins and remnants of the Aryan ‘master race’ It was a frightening perverse expedition The real life drama chilling tale in “The Hollow Bones” was chillingstarting with the most problematic character leader of this expedition Ernst Schäfer But the women who steals our heart in this story is HertaSchafer’s wife She isn’t a flashy party girl rather a lovely country girl a musician beautiful flute player lonely homesick suppressed by the conditions of of life Ok must be honest there was a scene that was so SHOCKING CRAZY — I’m thinking things like”you stupid dumbass”are you REALLY STUPID NAIVE BRAIN DEAD or WHAT?I HAD TO SHARE THIS PART WITH PAUL my husbandand OMGI had one of those moments againAs I started sharing having been so absorbed in the story coming up for airI started to try to share about this NUTTY INSANE SCENE but soooo real that when I started to talk I was UNCONTROLLABLY laughing crying at the same time I almost couldn’t SPEAK the scene out loud Tell meI’m not the only person who has had this type of experience? Another bittersweet gorgeous part of this novel is the voice of dead animalsHere are a couple of partial samples “My mother would tell me stories when I was a cub of when our ancestors white as snow lived in the mountains Long ago a gentle shepherd girl from the valley below would flock to graze up theresometimes the panda would” read the rest yourself 🐼 “I am a living fossil apparently”A professor comes and talks to other people about the uniue panda their place in evolution and the controversy about his phylogenetic position Pandas don’t have a umami He missed his shepherd and learned that he had to go back to Germany and even though he put an arrow through his heart it’s like getting another arrow and his heart with him leaving Many points of interest in no particular orderBride school Mutterchulungskurs wives of SS soldiers Nordic ancestors the Olympic Games 25000 pigeons were released into the air during the opening ceremonies The Swedish explorer Sven Hedin crucial facts on onanism extensive medical screening and intimate medical examinations before marriageThe marriage between Ernst Schäfer and his wife Herta The 10 commandments for choosing a spouse weakening of defective genes especially Jews and the mentally ill Margarete Herta’s deaf sister Waltershausen and growing up in this small family town Bird Bones tea strudel lebkuchen with cream music the flute being outside in nature the team of scientists Edmund Geer Karl Wienert Ernst Krause Bruno HeidelbergThe international Hunting huge exhibition cocky huntersetc etc THE ENDING of this story had me in tears The epilogue was won’t saybut gut AFFECTING“How can a man who held a deep reverence for nature and all its gifts at the same time be its destroyer?”A favorite ‘aw’ moment “As children they made their way to a secret hide out in the woods every day after school any threshold of wonder the portal in a world in which they were merely creatures among creatures Bees hovered over wildflowers as young Ernst and Herta walked across fields where horses flicked their tails at flies and farmers called to their dogs Jumping from rock to rock across the street in which fish were swimming like beads of uartz in porphyry the children followed a slender path up a steep rise walking hand in hand A golden oriole sang to them accompanied by the distant lowing of cows and chiming of church bells Herta would sit cross legged in the small clearing among a corpse of pines threading berries onto a twig Her favorite tree was a scarred old oak grown tall in its solitude It was the perfect listener giving everything and asking nothing in return” A remarkable bold and beautiful book A VERY STRONG FAVORITE HISTORICAL FICTION uick read too not too long or too short just rightLeah’s novel broke my heart angered me at timesmade me laugh when maybe I shouldn’t have and has left me looking at my thoughts but not ordinary thoughts Great book club choice much to stir up worthy conversations I can even see this novel made into a movie 5 STRONG STARS

  2. JV (semi-hiatus) JV (semi-hiatus) says:

    I want to forget the darkness and remember only the good; illusion is such a temptress It won’t be long before we will both float weightlessly unmoored our bones hollow like the birds' I remember you once told me about mockingbirds and their special talents for mimicry They steal the songs from others you said I want to ask you this how were our own songs stolen from us the notes dispersed while our faces were turned away Written with esoteric knowledge and poetical prowess Kaminsky conjures forth a cautionary tale that analyses human nature vis à vis our own decadence loyalty and morality towards the relentless pursuit of our own insatiable ambitions and worldly ideologies Based on true events The Hollow Bones fictionalises the life of Ernst Schäfer a great hunter fearless explorer and respected scientist in the 1930s with the Third Reich As a renowned ornithologist and a dedicated chronicler of the wild Heinrich Himmler one of the most powerful Nazi leaders during that time and a staunch believer of the World Ice Theory summons Ernst to lead an all German expedition in search of the great Aryan forebears You young man will travel to Tibet to head into the bowels of the earth where Fire and Ice went to war and the ancestors of the German Volk emerged triumphant as Sonnenmenschen Perfect beings as radiant as the sun As his ambition grows and Ernst rises in rank his wife Herta notices a dramatic change in his husband's demeanor leading to his inevitable corruption reminiscent to that of the Nazi behaviour — having a hollow soul with its propaganda of spreading Nazism while advancing their own occult drivel and superiority How could a man who held deep reverence for nature and all its gifts at the same time be its destroyer? While this book is beautifully written well researched thought provoking and complex the plodding plot digressing narrative and its incoherence were one of its main drawbacks One moment you're reading about the present then it unexpectedly goes back to the past which was rather confusing It wasn't uite emotionally resonant gripping or spine tingling but rather it was unsettling especially with the death of numerous faunas Caution is highly advised for those who are sensitive to animal slaughter Nevertheless Kaminsky successfully illustrates the cost of Ernst's moral decay in his pursuit of science along with his higher aspirations Let the thousands of specimens you have pillaged from the safety of the wild and brought to display in domestic parlours and museums around the world be shown for what they are Their enforced immortality could never take away the beauty of their fragile fleeting lives I fly away from you now no need for final words The most powerful language belongs to them It’s the animals who make us human Thank you Leah Kaminsky and Penguin Random House Australia for providing a DRC in exchange for an honest review

  3. Jeffrey Keeten Jeffrey Keeten says:

    ”I want to forget the darkness and remember only the good; illusion is such a temptress It won’t be long before we will both float weightlessly unmoored our bones hollow like the birds’ I remember you once told me about mockingbirds and their special talents for mimicry They steal the songs from others you said I want to ask you this how were our own songs stolen from us the notes dispersed while our faces were turned away?”SS Sturmbannführer Ernst Schäfer is a man of destiny He is determined to be a man who leaves his mark on history Failure is not an option and anything or anyone who keeps him from achieving his goals will have to be eliminated His wife Herta Volz is a childhood sweetheart who will always see Ernst as a sweet boy even as he grows into a demanding man filled with rage and brainwashed by the Nazi belief in the Superman He is a hunter even so than he is a scientist He can see the beauty in the flight of a bird but at the same time he knows godlike that he can bring that beauty crashing to earth He decides if that bird lives or dies and he revels in it Ernst wants nothing than to go back to Tibet to be seduced once by the wild beauty but also to bend it to his own design As Herta points out to him ”’You will never be able to see the real Tibet Ernst You are too busy dissecting it’”His ticket to get back to Tibet rests in the office of Heinrich Himmler and fortunately Himmler sees Ernst as a perfect specimen of Germanic stock His beautiful wife Herta though resisting all of this in private has been a model of what a Nazi wife should be She even goes to a Nazi bride camp for wives where they are taught what is expected of themsubmission Polish his boots clean his rife submit to his desires bear his children and be the rock behind his efforts to help the Third Reich rule for a thousand years The interesting thing is Herta sweet flute playing Herta convinces me that Ernst is salvageable that he would not be the way he is if not for the influence of the Nazi regime She understands he can not achieve his goals without being a fervent member of the Nazi party and she believes that when the day comes when all this madness is stopped that he will prove to be the man she sees in the boy Maybe going to Tibet will set him right will bring back the honorable aspects she wishes to see in him ”Part of him ached to escape from trying to be a perfect husband a studious scientist a spotless officer of the Reich Tibet like a sultry mistress waited in the background beckoning him irrevocably towards her seductive terrain” Is that just a man wanting to shrug off the responsibilities of his life or is he wanting to move beyond a persona that has been superimposed upon him by everyone perceiving him to be so much than what he is really capable of being?Himmler of course has an agenda for backing Ernst’s trip to Tibet It can’t possibly be just for the sake of science He wants him to find traces of Aryan influences in the Tibetan people to support the story that Germans once lived there Bring out the calipers to measure their skulls and lips Bring out the eye color chart to see if there are any traces of Aryanism among the natives Weigh and measure and find wanting You can’t find two people different than Ernst and Herta Maybe if they hadn’t been living in the wrong age they would have had completely different lives She would have softened him and he would have strengthened her Maybe if the world was not on fire and men are not rewarded with Death’s Head Rings for special service then uite possibly they both would have had the opportunity to be the best versions of themselves ”He had carved out who he was in nature whereas she preferred to disappear in its folds melting into its beauty” I want to think in a different time that Herta would have lovingly taken Ernst’s rifle from his hands and replaced it with a pair of binoculars and that he would have encouraged her to pursue her music This novel is based upon true events Ernst and Herta Schäfer did really exist and their story is a compelling one brought vividly to life by Leah Kaminsky This is the best kind of historical fiction made real than nonfiction It is uirky and bold with splashes of spicy history and sweet music I’m not a birder certainly not a lister though Jonathan Franzen in his recent collection of essays does his bloody best to turn me into one I will say the hoopoe bird on the cover of this book is certainly one of the loveliest birds on the planet Birds figure strongly in this book and both Ernst and Herta see the beauty in them but Herta wants to join them flying above the earth while Ernst wants to bring them crashing to earth to become a dead eyed curiosity on a shelf The conclusion rocked me back in my seat I had to backtrack a few pages and read forward againthinking to myselfdid I miss something? My goodness I did not see that coming Yes the unthinkable does happen It was the age when unthinkable things happened to many people Most people survived but not without bearing the wounds of their near demise I want to thank Leah Kaminsky who made the extra effort to send me a copy of her book from Down Under in exchange for an honest review I want to thank my friend Elyse Walters who so adamantly brought this book to my attention If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews visit also have a Facebook blogger page at

  4. Debra Debra says:

    The Hollow Bones is the fictionalized tale of Ernst Schäfer an ambitions zoologist renowned ornithologist explorer hunter and scientist Based on true events this book examines his career his relationship and Marriage to his wife Herta and how he gains the attention of Heinrich Himmler In the 1930's he joins Himmler's SS for specimen collecting opportunities in Tibet Himmler a believer in the world ice theory admires Schäfer and his accomplishments The trip to Tibet is interesting heartbreaking the killing of a panda encased in glass in Philadelphia who tells its own tale and explores one man's obsessionuestdrive for scientific research fueled by his need for knowledge power arrogance and driveThe book is just not about Ernst The book is also about his wife Herta who was his childhood friend and grows to love him as an adult She is a kind sweet woman with an affinity for music She was the bright light in this novel She must learn how to be a good Nazi wife even if she does not agree with their all of their propaganda She must not only learn the rules; she must follow them and live them She gives up a lot to be his wife and watches as her husband changes She still sees the good in him even as the reader watches as he changes page by page ‘Watching him speak so animatedly to his fellow hunters she saw a side of her husband she would never be able to reconcile with her childhood image of him How could a man who held such a deep reverence for nature and all its gifts at the same time be its destroyer?’The book is told through Herta Ernest's and even the Panda's POV He killed a lot of animals and their stories are told as well It is evident that a lot of research went into the writing of this novel The writing is solid and the plot is thought provoking This would make a good book club selection as there is much to discuss here What would have happened to this couple if they lived in a different time? What would have happened had Ernst Schäfer not become involved with the SS? Would he have treated his wife differently? Would he have encouraged her music? War changes people power changes people feeling invincible changes people Feeling as if nothing can touch you or stop you changes people Having things taken from people changes them giving up on your dream’s changes people Ernst Schäfer lived to be 82 years old He escaped justice as many Nazi's did exonerated in 1949 of any crimes He claimed he joined the SS for scientific reasons and went on to have a career when so many were robbed of theirs during the Holocaust This is a book which I will be thinking about for days to come It is one that I will most likely read again as I read this one very slowly I feel as if I need to read this book again to absorb even of it Historical fiction fans those interest in the War Holocaust etc will be riveted by this taleI received a copy of this book from the Author in exchange for an honest review The thoughts and opinions are my own

  5. Dorie - Cats&Books :) Dorie - Cats&Books :) says:

    This was a 4 ½ rounded down to a 4 because I thought the flow was at times disjointed but that in no way detracts from my admiration for this author and the work and heart that she put into this book I also found the ending to be somewhat abruptIt has been about a week since I finished reading this book and I’m still having problems summarizing the novel I have read many many books about WWII and all of Hitler’s atrocities but have never heard the name of the Ernst Shafer He was a hunter collector and zoologist specializing in ornithology As the novel begins we are introduced to Ernst and his childhood friend and then wife Herta who throughout the novel notices how much Ernst changes When they were young they would often go on adventures in nature and he would show her bird’s feathers and pointed out various animals and vegetation As he got older he became obsessed with his hunting and collecting “Why can’t you just be proud of me Herta?” “ Proud of what exactly? She brushed him off I can’t admire the violent deaths of your precious birds”Ernst is already well known when Heinrich Himmler appoints him to head up an expedition to Tibet He is convinced that it is here that they will find a link to the pure Aryan race that the Germans are convinced are above all other humans Ernst is interested in all of the “specimens” that he will be able to collect on this long extensive expedition he doesn’t really care why it is being funded Throughout the novel we don’t really hear about what is being learned about the Aryan race’s origins but only about what Ernst is hunting and collectingThe group does manage to gain entry into Tibet and it is around this time that the world is erupting into WWII Their extended trip is cut short and they are lucky to return to Germany and avoid capture by the Allies and with all of their “specimens” intactI found some of the story confusing as we are hearing the story from both Herta and Ernst’s POV’s At time we also jump back and forth in time There is a third POV and that is from a juvenile panda whom Ernst had shot and brought back as a trophy for the museum It was this story although fictitious and somewhat dreamlike that added even sadness to an already emotionally highly charged story “Some days my mind wanders back to Wild to the mists of the forest with it’s gnarled moss covered tree roots the smell of freshly cut bamboo and the singing of distant villagers who knew well enough to leave us alone” “My mother would tell me stories when I was a cub of when our ancestors lived high up in the mountains” Panda’s story added another dimension to the novel I began to wonder at what price to nature do we fill our museums with specimens from the wild? It was definitely thought provokingThere is a lot of information in this book well researched and ending with an Afterword which describes what happened to many of the SS officers noted in the novel “After his return to Germany from Tibet Himmler sent Ernst to film medical experiments on inmates at Dachau concentration camp” Upon his internment in Nuremberg he managed to convince his interrogators that he was manipulated by Himmler and was working only as a scientist He was fined but then released to serve as curator of the Department of Natural History from 1960 to 1970 he lived to age 82 in Germany It was incredibly disturbing infuriating really to read about the number of Nazi’s who had committed terrible crimes who went unpunished able to live out their lives after they had taken the lives of so many othersI felt fortunate to be able to read this novel and know that I will be thinking about the messages being told here for a long while I highly recommend this to all lovers of historical fiction This novel is available on Australia

  6. Will Byrnes Will Byrnes says:

    Part of him ached to escape from trying to be a perfect husband a studious scientist a spotless officer of the Reich Tibet like a sultry mistress waited in the background beckoning him irrevocably towards her seductive terrain They were each so different and yet the same He had carved out who he was in nature whereas she preferred to disappear in its folds melting into its beauty The Hollow Bones is a tale of love ambition passion madness and carnage It begins with the love story Remember that kid you had a crush on way back when? Every fiber of you wanted to be with that kid without at all knowing what that really meant You were sympatico though your interests might have been different He or she was kind caring had your back You were friends without the benefits that are reserved for later in life But that childhood soul mate is sent away as a young teen and it is years before you see each other again Then the day arrives You are both in your twenties Your bestie is now a big deal scientist a published author an explorer And you project onto himher all the feelings and perceptions that you preserved from your childhood friendship And so it is when Herta Volz enrolled in a Berlin conservatory mastering the flute re meets Ernst Schäfer a Some Enchanted Evening moment but without you know actually being strangers Ernst Schäfer Image from ABC AustraliaErnst a zoologist has done uite well for himself He has been working on his PhD at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia busy exploring the world particularly the Himalayas for his study of birds But he is summoned by Himmler himself back to Berlin to take on a special project It is during the months leading up to Ernst’s project launch that these two lovebirds rekindle their affections and start building a nest get engaged But he is not uite the same kindly sort she’d known as a child Herta appears to be in love with an image a memory of who someone was or at least seemed to be while the adult person is someone else entirely Still she does her best to act as Ernst’s conscience as he deals daily with the dark side Leah Kaminsky image from her FB pagesWorld War II is the war that keeps on giving And just when you think you have seen read or heard about everything that went on during that particularly grim time along comes another story based on little known facts This book had its genesis when Kaminsky became aware of the historical Ernst Schäfer while on a book tour in the USA The Academy of Natural Sciences held a trove of materials brought to it by a German ornithologist Schäfer As reflected in the novel Schäfer was called back from his doctoral work in the US by Himmler to lead an expedition to Tibet It gets a bit weird here Himmler was a proponent of the World Ice Theory an alternative Theory of Everything favored by Nazis as the actual science of relativity and diverse other grand understandings were developed by Jews and they could not abide that In addition to seeing ice underlying everything this particular form of insanity entails a strained movement of ancient residents of Atlantis to Tibet don’t ask then the Atlanteans mating with Tibetans to create the original Aryans The secret mission that Schäfer led was to find evidence of the ancient Aryans to support the Third Reich’s fantasies about a pure Aryan race In the novel and presumably in reality as well Schäfer rolls his eyes but takes Himmler’s money and leads the expedition to learn all he could about the fauna of the Himalayas Others on the mission were charged with research closely attuned to the Reich’s real intentions This is a photo from the 1938 German Tibet expedition in which Ernst Schäfer is paying court to Tibetan dignitaries to try and curry favour so they will allow him to enter the holy city of Lhasa which was off limits to foreigners back then He has hung flags of the SS insignia and the swastika telling his visitors that ‘East and West meet in the swastika’ image from ElizabethStorrscomThe narrative alternates mostly between Herta and Ernst and between their contemporary experience and recollections from their childhood in Waltershausen a small town in central Germany We get to see how poorly Ernst was treated by his family and there is a suggestion of something far from kosher at the boarding school to which he is sent We see how he impresses with acts of courage and caring get that he is smitten with nature but also see his fondness for killing it as well There is a third voice here but we will get to that later What would you give to be able to pursue your dreams? Maybe take on an absurd project in order to finance your real scientific research? In order to get the Himalaya gig Ernst has to sign up with the SS In fact all the people heading out on this mission are SS members It is particularly fitting that the real Ernst toted with him a copy of Goethe’s Faust as he makes a dark bargain to join science to politics despite knowing that the politics based science he is supposed to be researching is drivel It would be like a field researcher accepting a grant from the Koch Brothers to disprove global warming in order to get the cash he needs to do real work on say a threatened species of owl Is Ernst a scientist or a villain a researcher or a bringer of a zoological holocaust? Did he sell his soul or was it dark from an early age? What is clear is that Ernst in order to provide specimens to western institutions slaughtered vast numbers of creatures mammalian and avian The ravishing of the natural world is a significant theme in the book mirroring the Nazi slaughter of millions of people including a scene in which high ranking Nazis glory in their hunting prowess which brings us to that third voice This four month old panda is intended to be a cry from the wild about the dark side of taxidermy and museums image from the author’s FB pagesThere are several chapters in the book that are dictated by a young panda Ernst had killed in the Himalayas and brought back to the museum in Philadelphia I expect this is supposed to represent the voice of all the creatures Ernst killed For a creature taken from its world so it could be put on display it is remarkably forgiving as it holds Ernst in high regard while describing the goings on in the museum These are charming interludes but I felt it was a step too far into the realm of fantasy However there are other elements of fantastical stretching in the book that worked wonderfully In one Ernst sees a creature known as a shapi It is an albino of the species East Himalayan tahr the real Ernst was the first westerner to see this species and he stalks it relentlessly The episode is told in a dream like manner that befits a creature held in almost religious awe by the locals with a wake up suddenly climax that is wonderfully fitting There is one delicious scene in which Ernst gets to experience the hunt from the other side In a similar vein Herta has a very intimate relationship with her surroundings In one particularly lyrical scene she imagines herself with angel wings Several dream seuences add another layer of fantasy to the storyIn addition to the strangeness of the Nazis’ World Ice Theory and Aryan fantasies there are other elements of the time that are of interest One is Kaminsky’s portrayal of Berlin during the excitement generated by the Olympics the revels the events and the removal of blatantly anti semitic messaging while so many foreigners were in town Another is the existence of Reich Bride Schools in which prospective wives of Nazi officers underwent training in cooking child care and the proper care of their husband’s uniforms and daggers Women were supposed to remain at home and ideally function as brood mares with special awards given to women who had the most babies Herta is subjected to this ridiculousness while engaged to Ernst Pursuing a career as a musician or pretty much anything else was forbidden They also were subjected to propaganda about race and genetics and had to pass a screening procedure before they would even be allowed to marry SS officers I had no idea such things existedThere is much writing in The Hollow Bones that takes wing The central image of the book is birds I expect there is not a page in which there is no mention of birds feathers or some avian related term For a story about an ornithologist and a woman who yearns to fly this seemed particularly fitting Seated in an armchair she drifted off In her swirl of dreams she and Ernst were two birds caught in a trap An old farmer trudged through snow to release them They stretched their wings and soared together high above fields covered with the dead She tried to warn Ernst it was dangerous to fly with his eyes closed but all that emerged from her beak was the language of song Ignoring her doleful cries Ernst swooped down to fight with wild beasts returning to her not long after with his heart gouged out She tried to stop the bleeding with her feathers Hands sprouted from the tips of her wings as she reached out to him His was a love so hard to embrace She lifted him onto her back and carried him away flying to the top of a distant tree She would be his eyes Leah Kaminsky is ours She sees so much and so well The Hollow Bones soars on wings nicely feathered with new information about a dark time a moving love story effective imagery a hawkish look at some elements of science a lyrical poetic voice and a taste for the killer twist Check it outReview posted – June 14 2019Publication date – March 5 2019 – Australia The author sent me a pdf of this book in return for something than a bird brained consideration There was no agreement however about painful wordplayGiven the pervasive use of avian imagery one might be tempted to say this was a tale of boy meets gull I wouldn’t but some might All right go ahead hiss I deserve that What about Hoopoe is a thing with feathers? Hey no throwing things ok Geez stop that hurt EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author’s personal Twitter and FB pagesInterviews Radio National ABC Australia The Hollow Bones the weird world of Nazi 'science' meets mysticism on the road to Tibet by Natasha Mitchell Elisabeth Storrs On Inspiration Interview with Leah KaminskyBy Leah An extract from the book Prologue and Chapter 1 Women Writers Women’s Books The Hollow BonesWhen I was on book tour in the US with my first novel I visited their library archives and found a trove of material – letters photographs and field diaries – which Schäfer had left behind It was then that the librarian introduced me to the curator and I was fortunate enough to be shown the range of specimens Ernst Schäfer had brought back from his forays in the Far East That was when I came face to face with a four month old panda the German scientist had shot and brought back from the Kham Forests of Tibet This creature insisted on becoming a plaintiff call from the wild in my story Items of Interest Reich Bride Schools Ahnenerbe On the Shapi or Himalayan tahr discovered by the real Ernst Schäfer Radio National ABC Australia The Bookshelf by Kate Evans and Cassie McCullough from 140 – to 1030 Faust Some Enchanted Evening the movie version

  7. Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews says:

    35 stars A richly layered wartime storyBerlin 1938 Ernst Schafer is an aspiring zoologist determined to make a name for himself His supportive young wife Herta accepts the long hours Ernst spends working in his office or away on adventurous expeditions Heinrich Himmler approaches Ernst to lead a group of SS scientists on an journey to Tibet funded by the Nazi’s The Nazi’s have their own agenda while on the expedition while Ernst sees it as an opportunity to further his travels and expertise Herta has her concerns but shows support for her husbandI loved the chapters that explored Ernst and Herta’s relationship taking them from childhood into marriage It was such a uniue relationship with Herta as the supportive nurturer who understands her husband like no one else does I was fascinated by their dynamic watching their bond evolve was my favourite part of the novel While I did find the expedition chapters lengthy they were uniue and informative I have never read anything like this before Ernst’s thirst and determination to discover and analyze new species was interesting to experience His love of nature and hunger to advance his career was palpable I warn that this could be a difficult book to read for animal lovers however the scenes were handled gently and respectfully The writing was excellent I look forward to reading from this author I was surprised to find that this novel is based on real people and events It is a piece of history I knew nothing about which is the main reason I enjoy reading historical fiction I recommend this to all historical fiction lovers Thank you to Leah Kaminsky for providing me with a copy to read and review

  8. Marialyce Marialyce says:

    It is always shocking and amazing how many people escaped punishment for their vile and heinous crimes during World War 2 In both the Nazi movement and that of the Japanese empire there were many allowed to go unpunished some with just a slight slap on their wrist who then went out and were able to lead normal lives Sometimes it was luck a clandestine escape but on most occasions sadly there were political motivations The bottom line was these people were able to lead their lives while those they exterminated harmed and persecuted did not I remember you once told me about mockingbirds and their special talents for mimicry They steal the songs from others you said I want to ask you this how were our own songs stolen from us the notes dispersed while our faces were turned away?In the book The Hollow Bones Leah Kaminsky introduces the reader to Ernst Schaefer a zoologist whose main point of study was birds Ernst caught the attention of Heinrich Himmler Thrilled with the recognition and being a zealous man Ernst gladly joins the SS and is soon scheduled to lead an expedition to Tibet It is fairly well know that the Nazi leaders particularly Himmler were fixated on the occult and the origins of the Aryan race convinced that their roots might have been in Tibet Leaving the rising tensions at home as well as a new wife Herta Ernst and company head out on their mission The world was due to explode shortly and as Ernst and his cohorts try to find a way into Tibet tensions around the world become incensed and war is startedIn the story the author tells of Ernst and his cruelty and lack of a moral code The story is cleverly told through the eyes of the animals he has killed Even in his youth in his zeal for research we see what many would consider psychopathic behavior in Ernst His wife Herta also gives us a portrait of a man who was self centered and narcissistic He certainly possessed all the attributes that one needed to be a successful member of Himmler's SS Chilling and shocking this book alerts us to the fact that Ernst was not the only man who managed to escape justice He went on to to live his life while those he destroyed were denied theirs Thank you to Leah Kaminsky Penguin Random House and Elyse Walthers for bringing this book to my attentionMy review can also be seen here

  9. Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader says:

    A big thank you to my friend Elyse for putting this book on my radar I never would have wanted to miss it ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 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 raceThe story is told through the eyes of Herat Schafer’s wife Kaminsky used photographs diaries letters and films to piece together this compelling storyAfter 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 ordersThe 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 ualms with their beliefs She also struggles with her feelings about her husband as he becomes involved but she also still sees his strengthsThere 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 pageThe 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 ambitionI received a complimentary copy All opinions are my ownMy reviews can also be found on my blog wwwjennifertarheelreadercom

  10. Tammy Tammy says:

    5 ☆ Wow I enjoy reading historical fiction in and around the WWll era and I have to say this is much MUCH different than any other story I’ve readThe Hollow Bones is based on the life of the Nazi regimes little known villain zoologist Ernst Schafer Germanpart Jewish Yes Jewish if you can believe that A hunter collector specializing in rare Tibetan birds Ernst is invited by Heinrich Himmler to lead a team of SS scientists into Tibet to uncover their ancestral German heritage Hitler himself believes their pure German blood comes from an ancient warrior race born in the foothills of the Tibetan Himalayas; that the Aryan race emerged from a great cosmic battle between fire ice“World Ice Theory is finally receiving the recognition it deserves overthrowing that madman Einstein and his Jewish pseudoscience The Führer has at last accepted it as the scientific platform of the Reich And rightly so We know the truth now that ice crystals are the true building blocks of the universe not those imaginary atoms” Heinrich HimmlerWhile preparing for his upcoming trip he marries his childhood sweetheart Herta who’s now seeing a different person emerge in Ernst She thinks back in time to when they were children playing in the woods enjoying the fauna birds and animals the Ernst she knew and loved He’d now become a stranger to her He was in effect a true SS Nazi as sinister as they all were In the Afterword Ernst Schäfer was exonerated in 1949 of any crimes I find it very shocking how he escaped justice by bending the truth I’ve only touched on a few small pieces in this fascinating story I highly recommend reading it Thanks to Leah Kaminsky for sending me a pdf and my dear friend Elyse Walthers for contacting me

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