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The Hollow Bones is a novel that implores us to pay careful attention to the crucial lessons we might learn from our not-too-distant history.

Berlin, 1938. The eve of war. Ernst Schafer, a young, ambitious zoologist, keen hunter and devoted husband of the beautiful Herta, comes 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 Schafer, 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 the flawed scientist Ernst Schafer, through the eyes of his ill-fated lover, Herta. Haunted by the death of his young bride, Nazism proved a convenient short-cut to personal glory for Schafer who, accompanied by a group of SS scientists, would trek across inhospitable, treacherous terrain, on a mission to conduct experiments to prove their Nordic heritage. In 1939, the team was flown out of India on Himmler’s flying boats. Schafer was an instant celebrity on his return to Berlin and at just twenty-eight, he had become 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 Schafer 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.

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    March 5, 2019

    Vintage Australia

    RRP $32.99

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  • The Hollow Bones
    Leah Kaminsky



    March 5, 2019

    Random House Australia

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