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The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History
The Monuments Men Allied Heroes Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History
Author: Robert M. Edsel
At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: "degenerate" works he despised. — In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often ...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780316240055
ISBN-10: 0316240052
Publication Date: 10/22/2013
Pages: 512
Edition: Mti
Rating:
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 24

3.9 stars, based on 24 ratings
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

cathyskye avatar reviewed The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History on + 1943 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
While living in Florence, Italy, author Robert M. Edsel wondered how so many brilliant works of art could have survived the cataclysm that was World War II. What he discovered was the MFAA-- the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program-- a group of dedicated museum curators, artists, art restorers, art historians, and soldiers who risked their lives to save hundreds of years worth of European culture. Rightfully overshadowed by the horrors of Nazi concentration camps, the work these men and women did-- often with no weapons, no transportation, and no cameras or film-- has now come to light.

Like many readers, I came to The Monuments Men first through the film starring George Clooney. Although I did enjoy it, I couldn't get over the feeling that most of the story had been left untold. The Nazis stole millions of pieces of art and either kept them for themselves, destroyed them, or placed them in caches for Hitler's master plan art museum (which, thankfully, was never built). I had to learn more; thus, I turned to Edsel's book.

Edsel covers the period of time from D-Day to V-E Day in northwestern Europe. (In a second book, Saving Italy, the author covers MFAA efforts in that country; there's simply too much story to tell in one book.) The first third of the book is rather disjointed as Edsel jumps from location to location, relating the difficulties of implementing the MFAA objectives (which were backed by Eisenhower), introducing the Monuments Men, and explaining the scope of Nazi plundering. I was so fascinated by the subject matter that this choppiness scarcely phased me.

Once the stage has been set and the Allies fight their way out of France and Belgium, the book picks up speed, and the action does take on the appearance of a treasure hunt. When the Allies reach Germany, they discover that it's a race against the Russians to find over 1,000 caches tucked away mainly in the southern part of the country. Whereas the Allies are working to return the recovered art to its rightful owners, the Russians-- who have suffered horrendously at the hands of the Nazis-- will keep everything they find as war reparations.

I found this book to be fascinating on so many counts: the fact that people actually recognized the need to save their culture, the men and women of the MFAA who worked so hard under extreme circumstances (many of whom never spoke of what they did once the war was over), and yet more examples of Nazi rapaciousness. This is a topic that has importance today. Hundreds of thousands of works of art are still missing, and any online news source will provide recent stories of artwork stolen by the Nazis being uncovered. Edsel's book is fascinating reading for anyone interested in World War II or in art, and I fully intend to read more.
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reviewed The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History on + 4 more book reviews
This is an amazing story, well worth reading even though all the details can't be absorbed. Read this book if you want to see how western nations are "exceptional." Set in WWII, it is the story of how a small team of allied soldiers help repatriate looted works of art (statues, paintings, furniture, relics). The author documents as best he can the true story.


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