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Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation's Treasures from the Nazis

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From the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Monuments Men. When Hitler's armies occupied Italy in 1943, they also seized control of mankind's greatest cultural treasures. As they had done throughout Europe, the Nazis could now plunder the masterpieces of the Renaissance, the treasures of the Vatican, and the antiquities of the Roman Empire. On the eve of the All From the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Monuments Men. When Hitler's armies occupied Italy in 1943, they also seized control of mankind's greatest cultural treasures. As they had done throughout Europe, the Nazis could now plunder the masterpieces of the Renaissance, the treasures of the Vatican, and the antiquities of the Roman Empire. On the eve of the Allied invasion, General Dwight Eisenhower empowered a new kind of soldier to protect these historic riches. In May 1944 two unlikely American heroes--artist Deane Keller and scholar Fred Hartt--embarked from Naples on the treasure hunt of a lifetime, tracking billions of dollars of missing art, including works by Michelangelo, Donatello, Titian, Caravaggio, and Botticelli. With the German army retreating up the Italian peninsula, orders came from the highest levels of the Nazi government to transport truckloads of art north across the border into the Reich. Standing in the way was General Karl Wolff, a top-level Nazi officer. As German forces blew up the magnificent bridges of Florence, General Wolff commandeered the great collections of the Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace, later risking his life to negotiate a secret Nazi surrender with American spymaster Allen Dulles. Brilliantly researched and vividly written, the New York Times bestselling Saving Italy brings readers from Milan and the near destruction of The Last Supper to the inner sanctum of the Vatican and behind closed doors with the preeminent Allied and Axis leaders: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Churchill; Hitler, Goring, and Himmler. An unforgettable story of epic thievery and political intrigue, Saving Italy is a testament to heroism on behalf of art, culture, and history.


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From the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Monuments Men. When Hitler's armies occupied Italy in 1943, they also seized control of mankind's greatest cultural treasures. As they had done throughout Europe, the Nazis could now plunder the masterpieces of the Renaissance, the treasures of the Vatican, and the antiquities of the Roman Empire. On the eve of the All From the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Monuments Men. When Hitler's armies occupied Italy in 1943, they also seized control of mankind's greatest cultural treasures. As they had done throughout Europe, the Nazis could now plunder the masterpieces of the Renaissance, the treasures of the Vatican, and the antiquities of the Roman Empire. On the eve of the Allied invasion, General Dwight Eisenhower empowered a new kind of soldier to protect these historic riches. In May 1944 two unlikely American heroes--artist Deane Keller and scholar Fred Hartt--embarked from Naples on the treasure hunt of a lifetime, tracking billions of dollars of missing art, including works by Michelangelo, Donatello, Titian, Caravaggio, and Botticelli. With the German army retreating up the Italian peninsula, orders came from the highest levels of the Nazi government to transport truckloads of art north across the border into the Reich. Standing in the way was General Karl Wolff, a top-level Nazi officer. As German forces blew up the magnificent bridges of Florence, General Wolff commandeered the great collections of the Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace, later risking his life to negotiate a secret Nazi surrender with American spymaster Allen Dulles. Brilliantly researched and vividly written, the New York Times bestselling Saving Italy brings readers from Milan and the near destruction of The Last Supper to the inner sanctum of the Vatican and behind closed doors with the preeminent Allied and Axis leaders: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Churchill; Hitler, Goring, and Himmler. An unforgettable story of epic thievery and political intrigue, Saving Italy is a testament to heroism on behalf of art, culture, and history.

30 review for Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation's Treasures from the Nazis

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    Follow-up book to The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Edsel and an excellent history of the unbelievable work done by a few men with an impossible job. Italy had partially fallen to the Allies and Germany was now "in charge" of the northern half of the country, just north of Florence/Pisa. To complicate matters in 1944, partisan forces in Italy had succeeded in creating a war within a war as they battled the Nazis, not always in cooperatio Follow-up book to The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Edsel and an excellent history of the unbelievable work done by a few men with an impossible job. Italy had partially fallen to the Allies and Germany was now "in charge" of the northern half of the country, just north of Florence/Pisa. To complicate matters in 1944, partisan forces in Italy had succeeded in creating a war within a war as they battled the Nazis, not always in cooperation with the Allies. Add the neutral position of the Papal State to the mix and the situation was to say the least, complicated. The Monuments Men came into Italy directly after the American invasion and moved to identify the irreplaceable art treasures in the path of the troops. But this was not confined to what the Nazis had already confiscated, hidden, or destroyed but also to the Allied bombing policy which initially gave no consideration to the cultural history of the cities being targeted. The reader is given an insider's look at the workings of the Monuments Men and a little personal history of each of them. Although they were not considered combat soldiers, they were constantly in danger and many of them were awarded medals for their valor. How they saved/recovered/restored so much of Italy's art work boggles the imagination. Highly recommended.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Having recently read The Monuments Men, and having seen the movie based on the book, I had to read Edsel's account of the work done by those involved with the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Section in the Italian theater. In as much as I'm more familiar with the "terrain" of Italy, particularly Florence, Rome, and, to a lesser extent, Pisa, than I am with northern Europe, this volume resonated with me. Salvaging, preserving, and recovering the noblest, most transcendent works of humanity, in Having recently read The Monuments Men, and having seen the movie based on the book, I had to read Edsel's account of the work done by those involved with the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Section in the Italian theater. In as much as I'm more familiar with the "terrain" of Italy, particularly Florence, Rome, and, to a lesser extent, Pisa, than I am with northern Europe, this volume resonated with me. Salvaging, preserving, and recovering the noblest, most transcendent works of humanity, in the midst of the barbarity and savagery of war, is an ennobling tale. The problem for Edsel is that his narrative powers can barely keep up with the complexity of the events and personalities involved. It isn't that he's a poor writer, he isn't. One gets the impression that occasionally he gets dizzied by the sheer volume of material. This is a very worthwhile reading experience if you keep your wits about you and persevere. It's an important story, important for us all.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Washington Post

    In 1914, shortly after Germany invaded neutral Belgium, the German authorities exacted revenge for the shooting of several of their soldiers on patrol in Louvain. They executed more than 200 civilians, then methodically set fire to homes and to the University of Louvain’s library. About 250,000 books went up in flames, including 800 that had been printed before the year 1500. Rebuilt and lavishly restocked between the wars, the library once again went up in flames in May 1940, the result of Germ In 1914, shortly after Germany invaded neutral Belgium, the German authorities exacted revenge for the shooting of several of their soldiers on patrol in Louvain. They executed more than 200 civilians, then methodically set fire to homes and to the University of Louvain’s library. About 250,000 books went up in flames, including 800 that had been printed before the year 1500. Rebuilt and lavishly restocked between the wars, the library once again went up in flames in May 1940, the result of German shelling in World War II. This time, 900,000 books were reduced to ashes, 200,000 of which had been donated by Germany under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Wars routinely destroy not just lives but cultural treasures. Yet Robert M. Edsel keeps demonstrating that, for all its horrors and destruction, World War II included unprecedented efforts to preserve Europe’s artistic masterpieces as the Allies retook the continent. Read the review: http://wapo.st/16EuJ5V

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lorna

    Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation's Treasures from the Nazis is the final book in the Monuments Men trilogy by Robert Edsel. This was an all-encompassing and spellbinding account of the race to save Italy's cultural heritage after the Allied forces stormed into Italy in 1943 and the subsequent retreat of the German army. However, the Nazis had been pillaging priceless works of art for some time and were prepared to move them out of the country. But there was a small group of American an Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation's Treasures from the Nazis is the final book in the Monuments Men trilogy by Robert Edsel. This was an all-encompassing and spellbinding account of the race to save Italy's cultural heritage after the Allied forces stormed into Italy in 1943 and the subsequent retreat of the German army. However, the Nazis had been pillaging priceless works of art for some time and were prepared to move them out of the country. But there was a small group of American and British men made up of museum directors, curators, artists, educators, the Monuments Men, volunteering to save Europe's rich heritage. Empowered by General Dwight Eisenhower on the eve of the Allied invasion in Italy to protect this nation's vast treasures, this small group of men began an almost insurmountable task of seeking out, preserving and returning these artistic treasures. "In wartime when the thoughts of men fighting nations are concerned primarily with winning battles. . . it seems incongruous and inconsistent that the commanders of opposing armies should give attention to culture and the Fine Arts. . . there were men whose sole job was to preserve the heritage and culture of nations being torn to shreds by the ravages of war. Italy was the first to know the men whose job it was to care for her cultural and artistic heritage in wartime." -- Monuments Officer Captain Deanne Keller "What happens when this dense fabric of human achievement, so infinitely precious, so incalculably old, so carefully guarded, is struck by the full force of modern warfare." -- Monuments Officer Fred Hart "Museums in Italy followed the lead of other great institutions in Europe, including the Louvre in Paris, the National Gallery in London, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and transported their contents to remote storage facilities. Officials began removing works of art from Italian cities, transferring them to various countryside villas and castles." "Noticing an organ behind the High Altar, Keller asked him to play Schubert's 'Ave Maria.' Some fifty or so Allied soldiers listened raptly. As the last note resonated, the servicemen stomped and cheered for more. War had introduced many new sounds to a soldier. After months of artillery fire, gunshots, trucks, planes, engines, and radios, music offered otherworldly grace."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

    I took a class on WWII in high school and I remember my instructor starting the class off by explaining how difficult it was to truly study and understand WWII. Being a true scholar of the war required being fluent in multiple languages; an understanding of air, sea, and land tactics; and knowledge of code breaking, propaganda, and politics. The point is WWII is huge and complicated. So I really liked the idea of breaking down this huge and complicated time into little understandable sections. We' I took a class on WWII in high school and I remember my instructor starting the class off by explaining how difficult it was to truly study and understand WWII. Being a true scholar of the war required being fluent in multiple languages; an understanding of air, sea, and land tactics; and knowledge of code breaking, propaganda, and politics. The point is WWII is huge and complicated. So I really liked the idea of breaking down this huge and complicated time into little understandable sections. We're not concerned with the whole war here - just this tiny corner of it. And by understanding that corner, I would have a slightly better understanding of the war as a whole. That was what I wanted out of this book. A little more understanding. That isn't really what I got. While the subject is fascinating and Edsel clearly knows a great deal about it (having written several other books on Monuments Men and describing his research in the forward of the book), he seems almost hesitant to share. I'm reminded of a professor who is teaching to a class that is quickly falling asleep on him. He hurries forward through the topics, never stopping to dig in to any details in an attempt to get through the day's lesson before everyone passes out. And the thing is, I'm not falling asleep. The topic isn't dry, and the few characters should allow for some entertaining antidotes, but Edsel seems unwilling to dwell on any of them. Several interesting events are brought up (the acquisition of a car by questionable means or sneaking paintings into the city during an air raid) and then dropped without any description beyond a few words. If the book were tackling a larger topic I would understand that things needed to be cut in order to fit in the rest of the information, but Edsel seems to be cutting the information on the topic at hand to fit in a detailed description of General Wolff's attempt to gain an early surrender in Italy. Then, when he does include details, they seem to be unrelated to anything. Did you know that Wolff was in a car accident? Well he was. And it had nothing to do with anything else in this book. Overall, I would like to hear more descriptions of the people who did this important work. I would like to hear some of their stories. I would like to hear an explanation of how exactly they went about their job. I'm just going to have to look somewhere else to find that information.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jeni Enjaian

    I admit that I was not looking forward to this book thanks to the major let down of "Monuments Men." Thankfully, Edsel avoided the near-fictionalization that plagued the unfortunately more popular of the two companion pieces. He approached this book with a much more straightforward, chronologically speaking, narrative that despite the numerous players involved, avoided confusion and told a compelling narrative. I loved being able to picture the actual locations having been to many of these places I admit that I was not looking forward to this book thanks to the major let down of "Monuments Men." Thankfully, Edsel avoided the near-fictionalization that plagued the unfortunately more popular of the two companion pieces. He approached this book with a much more straightforward, chronologically speaking, narrative that despite the numerous players involved, avoided confusion and told a compelling narrative. I loved being able to picture the actual locations having been to many of these places. A few times in the book I wished that I had read the book before going to Italy so I could have found many of these little nuances (like a plaque to Wolff on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence) while we were over there. As is often the case, it is much easier to write a critique than a compliment. If you have the choice, read Saving Italy versus Monuments Men.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mackay

    An interesting, and to me unknown, story of the units sent into Europe with the Allied invasions to assess and protect as-possible the historic monuments and great art of Italy. The title is catchy, but misleading--the Allied "Monument Men" helped find or repair a great deal, but a great deal was lost, as well. The Italians themselves actually saved more art (the book's cover shows Michelangelo's David, which the Uffizi bricked up in a preservative silo, along with M's Slaves and other sculpture An interesting, and to me unknown, story of the units sent into Europe with the Allied invasions to assess and protect as-possible the historic monuments and great art of Italy. The title is catchy, but misleading--the Allied "Monument Men" helped find or repair a great deal, but a great deal was lost, as well. The Italians themselves actually saved more art (the book's cover shows Michelangelo's David, which the Uffizi bricked up in a preservative silo, along with M's Slaves and other sculptures too heavy to move) -- and even some Nazi officers had enough conscience to save some masterpiece canvases from destruction. Still, despite its pedestrian prose, the book shines a light on a worthwhile effort and the men who struggled against enormous odds to do their job.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jane Thompson

    I learned a great deal from this book. Even though I have done extensive reading about WWII, I did not know that we (the Allies) had bombed Milan, Rome, Pisa, and Florence. It never occurred to me that we would have done so. I was surprised to read of the losses to the art world caused by the War. However, I found the interminable discussion of the negotiations for the surrender of Italy to be boring. I had to skip a lot of that. Otherwise, I enjoyed the book and am glad I read it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    I just could not stick with this book. I found it so terribly, terribly dry and hard to keep up with in terms of the people who were involved. I WANTED to like the book and learn about how the art and other relics were helped to survive the war, but I just could not do it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mslogar

    Very interesting! some of it is a bit dry due to so many names, dates, facts, etc.... but I learned quite a bit from this book. I liked how the author walked you through the beginnings of the "Monuments Men" but also took you right along with our troops as they landed in Sicily, battled on to Naples, and then through Northern Italy. Fascinating to see how decisions were made on whether to bomb certain areas or not, and how an entire army had to maneuver around cities or landmarks due to its cult Very interesting! some of it is a bit dry due to so many names, dates, facts, etc.... but I learned quite a bit from this book. I liked how the author walked you through the beginnings of the "Monuments Men" but also took you right along with our troops as they landed in Sicily, battled on to Naples, and then through Northern Italy. Fascinating to see how decisions were made on whether to bomb certain areas or not, and how an entire army had to maneuver around cities or landmarks due to its cultural value. 1943- Adolph Hitler remarked to Ambassador Rahn, "Florence is too beautiful a city to destroy. Do what you can to protect it..." "What happens when this dense fabric of human achievement, so infinitely precious, so incalculably old, so carefully guarded, is struck by the full force of modern warfare?"-- Fred Hartt "There is something in preserving the world's heritage. It's a sort of faith that we have. It is tangible and can be proven-if anything in life is worth proving."--Deane Keller

  11. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    This book is a companion piece to - but definitely not as engaging as - the author's excellent 2009 book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History (let's refer to it as MM), which I had really enjoyed. This particular book is weighed down by a lengthy digression (in Section III) about a top Nazi working behind the scenes with other Nazis to arrange for the surrender of the German army in Italy (as well as rivalries between some of the Nazi bigwigs, This book is a companion piece to - but definitely not as engaging as - the author's excellent 2009 book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History (let's refer to it as MM), which I had really enjoyed. This particular book is weighed down by a lengthy digression (in Section III) about a top Nazi working behind the scenes with other Nazis to arrange for the surrender of the German army in Italy (as well as rivalries between some of the Nazi bigwigs, back-stabbing & hypocrisy, blah blah blah - enough already!). While interesting as a side note, the author spends way too many pages on this, and frankly that's not why I wanted to read this book. Moreover, whereas MM was about a treasure hunt for looted art, uncovering clues and piecing the puzzle together, with the clock ticking & time running out, Saving Italy deals mostly with the protection of immovable works of art, war damage sustained by art-rich cities such as Florence, and only a little with the actual 'tracking down of art' that I had enjoyed so much in MM. And if it's any indication of how much Saving Italy was not as engaging as MM, in spite of the lower page count for this book, it took me 50% longer to read it. I'm just glad it's over...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Edsel's third book about the Monuments Men and their attempt to locate, preserve and in some cases, rescue from planned destruction the cultural heritage of Europe, usually in conflict with bombing targeting, partisan activity and retreating Nazis. This volume concentrates on Italy, with a specific cast of art historians, artists and landscape architects recruited from British and American academia. From the way he describes them, the field reports of arriving in Italian towns ahead of the army, Edsel's third book about the Monuments Men and their attempt to locate, preserve and in some cases, rescue from planned destruction the cultural heritage of Europe, usually in conflict with bombing targeting, partisan activity and retreating Nazis. This volume concentrates on Italy, with a specific cast of art historians, artists and landscape architects recruited from British and American academia. From the way he describes them, the field reports of arriving in Italian towns ahead of the army, working with local officials (behaving with probity that made the subsequent arrival of troops easier) ought to be an under-exploited goldmine for people working in this part of WWII. What continues to astonish me is that for living in Italy 6 years and being sufficiently caught up in all this to make a Monuments Men Foundation, Edsel is still totally reliant on German and Italian translators, and it shows in an inability to grasp the nuances of phrasings--those super polite German salutations don't really mean that the letter writer genuinely likes you, trust me.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Zivile

    I was in the representation evening of this book and Edsel mentioned all details about saving the art in Italy. Although, I thought it was just a little piece and I needed to know more. But that was a mistake. If you are a fan of WWII history (which reminded me of school lectures), military part, then you might enjoy reading and reading the same history of WWII which still has no new/different views on the war. I also couldn't enjoy the American patriotism, seems like only the Americans saved al I was in the representation evening of this book and Edsel mentioned all details about saving the art in Italy. Although, I thought it was just a little piece and I needed to know more. But that was a mistake. If you are a fan of WWII history (which reminded me of school lectures), military part, then you might enjoy reading and reading the same history of WWII which still has no new/different views on the war. I also couldn't enjoy the American patriotism, seems like only the Americans saved all the art, world etc. I am tired of that. And in general, Italians were saving their art for most of the time, Americans and British were the ones who bombed the cities and destroying the cultural sites (not only Germans). And those Monument officers just had to fix their own problems... Don't waste time reading this book...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hope

    This book was not as interesting or as well-crafted as Edsel's Monuments Men. In fact, as I plodded along, I thought I would never be able to finish it. Happily the text ends at about the 50% mark on Kindle. After that comes extensive footnotes and bibliography. You may want to skip all that to get to the photos in the last few pages of the e-book. Edsel mentions many fascinating characters who I hope to meet again in future WWII reading. (Don Guido Anelli - The Flying Priest, OSS director Donav This book was not as interesting or as well-crafted as Edsel's Monuments Men. In fact, as I plodded along, I thought I would never be able to finish it. Happily the text ends at about the 50% mark on Kindle. After that comes extensive footnotes and bibliography. You may want to skip all that to get to the photos in the last few pages of the e-book. Edsel mentions many fascinating characters who I hope to meet again in future WWII reading. (Don Guido Anelli - The Flying Priest, OSS director Donavon, Pope Pious XII and his advisor Montini, Cardinal Dalla Costa, and Karl Wolff, to name a few)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Patrick SG

    Having read "The Monuments Men" a couple years ago, this book is more of a war story than that one was. It focuses more on the particulars of the Italian campaign and how the Monuments Men fit into that, while the other book was necessarily more diffuse. Actually, this story might have made a better source for the recent film. Having read "The Monuments Men" a couple years ago, this book is more of a war story than that one was. It focuses more on the particulars of the Italian campaign and how the Monuments Men fit into that, while the other book was necessarily more diffuse. Actually, this story might have made a better source for the recent film.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Susan Pola Staples

    Infound the book totally enjoyable for several reasons. Some of which are it restores my faith in mankind, gives me proof of the value of art and its advocacy of restoration, restitution and protection of our world heritage; be it a Renaissance painting or sculpture, a medieval Book of Hours, Egyptian pharoahic art or the magnificent Benin bronzes.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    In his earlier work, The Monuments Men, Edsel told of the bravery and skill of World War II military men assigned to protect and save Europe's historical buildings and art treasures from injury and loss during the war.  It was such an impressive book, I was eager to read the follow-up Saving Italy, which tells of such efforts in that country during the same war. If you have ever been to Florence, you will know what I mean when I say it's a city full of architectural and artistic masterpieces.  Ev In his earlier work, The Monuments Men, Edsel told of the bravery and skill of World War II military men assigned to protect and save Europe's historical buildings and art treasures from injury and loss during the war.  It was such an impressive book, I was eager to read the follow-up Saving Italy, which tells of such efforts in that country during the same war. If you have ever been to Florence, you will know what I mean when I say it's a city full of architectural and artistic masterpieces.  Everywhere you look, every museum, every church, nearly every building, will leave you awestruck.  I remember during a visit there hearing that only one bridge, Florence's most famous, the Ponte Vecchio survived destruction during World War II.  In this book, Edsel gives you the whole story: how the allies were instructed to avoid hitting any of these historic bridges, and how the Germans, on their departure from the city, placed and detonated explosive charges around all the bridges to slow the allied advance.  Through some miracle, the charges at the Ponte Vecchio did not destroy the bridge. Also similar to The Monuments Men, these military art experts needed to track down artwork that was stolen, both by the Germans, and by other military personnel.  It became a mystery and a race against time, to locate treasures that had sometimes been unknowingly moved into country estates that lay in the path of bombings and battles. It was a fascinating and nail biting look at real history.  Excellent book!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

    I think I've wondered in passing over the years about how art was preserved during this time in history, however, it wasn't until I came across this book that I truly questioned it. The book was interesting and informative. I struggled between giving 4 or 5 stars because there were moments I glossed over and lost some of my interest, but given how much new information about the war I discovered I went with 5. Ultimately, this book has piqued new interests in different areas of the war and I woul I think I've wondered in passing over the years about how art was preserved during this time in history, however, it wasn't until I came across this book that I truly questioned it. The book was interesting and informative. I struggled between giving 4 or 5 stars because there were moments I glossed over and lost some of my interest, but given how much new information about the war I discovered I went with 5. Ultimately, this book has piqued new interests in different areas of the war and I would like to further study the work of the Monuments Men.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    The vast quantity of stolen art during World War II boggles ones mind. The information in this book only touches the surface of what is known about art and valuables stolen/looted, just in Italy. I found that the amount of information delivered in this book was a little mind numbing. I had to read it in patches. I finished the book a more informed person, and not just a little depressed to know that there are countless treasures looted during World War II that will likely never be recovered. And The vast quantity of stolen art during World War II boggles ones mind. The information in this book only touches the surface of what is known about art and valuables stolen/looted, just in Italy. I found that the amount of information delivered in this book was a little mind numbing. I had to read it in patches. I finished the book a more informed person, and not just a little depressed to know that there are countless treasures looted during World War II that will likely never be recovered. And, that many families did not survive to try to recover their art.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Pmalcpoet Pat Malcolm

    Heartbreaking and thrilling, the story of the Monuments Men in Italy during and immediately after WWII. Edsel has painstakingly reconstructed and related events in their chronological form, some of which were not known in their entirety until years after the war. The book covers the efforts of men from both sides of the war who appreciated the value of some of civilizations greatest masterpieces and attempted to safeguard, or recover, or reconstruct so many of them. It attempts to untangle the c Heartbreaking and thrilling, the story of the Monuments Men in Italy during and immediately after WWII. Edsel has painstakingly reconstructed and related events in their chronological form, some of which were not known in their entirety until years after the war. The book covers the efforts of men from both sides of the war who appreciated the value of some of civilizations greatest masterpieces and attempted to safeguard, or recover, or reconstruct so many of them. It attempts to untangle the confusing motivations and actions of key players like the Nazi SS General who protected some artworks while facilitating the theft of others. The story of his ultimately successful attempt to bring about the surrender of German troops in Italy is told in breathtaking detail. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough, and found myself holding my breath waiting to learn if his plan and risk taking would work. Imagine going directly to Hitler for permission to talk to Allied authorities! And he got away with it. But more moving throughout was the sacrifice and dedication of a small band of American and British artists, historians and professors who left home to spend several years following Allied forces as they liberated city after town after city, all through Italy, assessing damage, facilitating restorations and returns, inventorying collections, and searching for missing masterpieces. Includes pictures, photos of the individuals in the monuments crew, the postwar lives of key members, and extensive notes.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Simone

    I started reading this without realizing this was Edsel's third book about the Monuments Men, in part because I had seen the trailer for the upcoming movie, "The Monuments Men." I still found this to be an interesting book, although the middle got a bit bogged down by war strategy talk which was less interesting to me overall. Still I found much of this book interesting enough to think about reading some of the other installments in the trilogy. I think the after-the-colon title makes this seem I started reading this without realizing this was Edsel's third book about the Monuments Men, in part because I had seen the trailer for the upcoming movie, "The Monuments Men." I still found this to be an interesting book, although the middle got a bit bogged down by war strategy talk which was less interesting to me overall. Still I found much of this book interesting enough to think about reading some of the other installments in the trilogy. I think the after-the-colon title makes this seem a little more frantic then it was. As it's presented here, and as Edsel acknowledges toward the end, the Nazis didn't steal and pillage from Italy quite the way they did from other Western European nations, at least in part because they began the War as allied nations. Unless I was reading this wrong - some Nazi officials did some shady things - but on the whole they were basically just as concerned as the Allies were about protecting the cultural heritage of Italy, in so far and as much as it didn't interfere with the War.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Machaia

    After finishing the fantastic Monuments Men, I dived into this companion novel. This book was less about recovering artwork and more about damage control and preservation, which makes sense considering the fact that Nazi Germany was allied (or Axised ;) with Italy for much of the war. It contained fascinating history, and it was amazing to think that some of the things I had the privilege of seeing in Italy probably wouldn't be there without the work of these men/women. However, this book did no After finishing the fantastic Monuments Men, I dived into this companion novel. This book was less about recovering artwork and more about damage control and preservation, which makes sense considering the fact that Nazi Germany was allied (or Axised ;) with Italy for much of the war. It contained fascinating history, and it was amazing to think that some of the things I had the privilege of seeing in Italy probably wouldn't be there without the work of these men/women. However, this book did not quite reach Monuments Men's level for me. This was partly because the main characters didn't resonate with me as well. This was really not the fault of the author as one of the three main characters was a senior SS officer and another was just not likable. Furthermore, I don't think this book would have worked without Monuments Men. MM is excellent and can stand beautifully on its own. Saving Italy, on the other hand, really needed MM to create more than a passing amount of resonance and depth. If you've read MM, read this one - otherwise, come back to it after you've finished MM.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Daphne

    Decent book. Something about the writing had my mind wandering many, many times throughout though. I can't quite put my finger on it. Had a super hard time focusing on all the dates, people, art, and locations. I'm glad I got through it, but not very sure I have retained much from it. I have The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History that is the same topic, and I think I'll try this one to see if I enjoy/follow it better. Decent book. Something about the writing had my mind wandering many, many times throughout though. I can't quite put my finger on it. Had a super hard time focusing on all the dates, people, art, and locations. I'm glad I got through it, but not very sure I have retained much from it. I have The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History that is the same topic, and I think I'll try this one to see if I enjoy/follow it better.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Phenomenal!!! I recommend this book to anyone interested in art and World War II. Overwhelming to consider and absorb just how much art was affected during the war and continues to be affected. This is a must own.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Fascinating way to view WWII Italian theater through the lens of the Monuments Men following the 5th Army. The story of the German general's surrender while using the stolen Italian art as the trump card is so little known and so compelling. A great historical read. Fascinating way to view WWII Italian theater through the lens of the Monuments Men following the 5th Army. The story of the German general's surrender while using the stolen Italian art as the trump card is so little known and so compelling. A great historical read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mackenzie

    Very interesting book, thoroughly researched. Describes the efforts to protect Italian art during World War II, but not just from the point of view of the Allies - also from the German perspective.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mahlon

    Suffers from the same problems I noted in my review of Monuments Men, but still a must read!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rae

    Much better written than Edsel's previous book "The Monuments Men". A very interesting story of efforts to protect Italy's cultural heritage during WW II. Much better written than Edsel's previous book "The Monuments Men". A very interesting story of efforts to protect Italy's cultural heritage during WW II.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Meyer

    Better than The Monuments Men. Fascinating look at efforts in Italy.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Pat Molloy

    Just plain boring and confusing

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