57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2006
It's hard to imagine why this EXTRAORDINARY story about EXTRAORDINARY men (and women) is just now being revealed to a mass audience. As a civilization, we owe the salvation of our culture to the efforts of the heroes in "Rescuing Da Vinci." HATS OFF TOO to Mr. Edsel for his vision of putting forth the greatest "untold" story of WWII in a brilliantly assembled book. It is the PERFECT gift for members of the "Greatest Generation," art collectors, war buffs, museum buffs or any thinker. The breathtaking pictures make it a superb gift for photographers, designers, architects and the like. Plus, I've discovered it's a wonderful "conversation piece" for my coffee table!
80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2007
You could be forgiven for dismissing this book, if you only went by titles, as just another book that is cashing in on the Da Vinci myth in concert with a patriotic nostalgia for the Second World War as a time of moral absolutes. You would be wrong. The photographs are superb, many published for the first time, and the accompanying text is precise,jargon free and direct. Robert Edsel may, as he says, be obsessed with the subject but his approach is measured and clear. I am an English fine art academic and heard of this book via a small article in an English newspaper and was sufficiently intrigued to order the book from Amazon in the US (it is not available in Great Britain). I have recommended it to many of my friends (not something to do lightly) as it compliments and extends, visually, much of the existing literature on the subject of art theft.
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
An effective pictorial survey of the cultural crimes waged by Germany during World War II.
That much plundered European art was found, protected and returned to rightful owners by the U.S. military in these difficult days is a bright star in our nation's history. Mr. Edsel has delivered a fitting tribute to the many U.S. and British art experts, and others, who volunteered to do what was possible to make aright the unpardonable cultural crimes committed by the Nazis.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2007
This is one of the most fascinating books i have ever read. The period images are amazing, just the photo of italian masons bricking up Michaelangelo's iconic David is worth the purchase. After reading this book I was stunned that so few art treasures were destroyed. I had no idea that much of the treasures at the National Gallery of Art in D.C. was stored at Biltmore because of its remote setting. I was also blown away to see the images of workman removing winged victory from the Louvre, I just had no idea all of this went on leading up to the war and during the war. The German pillaging of the great European art treasures is disgusting of course, especially the art they looted from the weathy Jewry like the Rothchilds and others, some of which even to this day are trying to get back art work that is rightly theirs. I highly recommend this great book to anyone interested in art, history, art history, or frankly has an inquisive mind. I want to thank the authors for a job well done.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2006
I thought I knew about every World War II story. This one blows me away. On page 129, there is a select list of Cultural Institutions that were lead by Monuments Men following the war, and it includes everything from the National Gallery and the Met, to the Library of Congress. These men were responsible not only for restoring monuments and treasures, but also for influencing art and culture as we know it.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2007
Rescuing Da Vinci is an interesting look into the history of some of the most loved art works of our time. After reading the stories, one gains a new appreciation for the art that we are able to view today; thanks to a very brave team of rescuers.
There has not been much focus in the past on this side of the war and Hitler's cruel obsession to gain and destroy these works.
Robert M. Edsel has did a superb job combining pictures and stories to help us glance back into our past.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2008
"Rescuing Da Vinci" by Robert M. Edsel.
Subtitled: Hitler And The Nazis Stole Europe's Great Art, America And Her Allies Recovered It". Laurel Publishing, LLV, Dallas, 2006.
After borrowing this book from the Plymouth Public Library, I was initially disappointed when I opened the book. It seemed that the book was all pictures and NO text! The book has some 300 pages and I would estimate that there are some 25 full pages of text, including the index and bibliography in the back of the book. Having said all this, it is my opinion, after having read the book that all those pictures were required to tell the complete story.
Page after page, photo after photo, I would find a painting or sculpture that I recalled from my art history classes, which was a long time ago. The book would show the 1940s picture on one page, with a person, perhaps in a period German uniform, "collecting" the item. And, then, on the facing page, often in full color, would be a present day view of the object. See, for example, pages 204 and 205, were Jan Vermeer's "The Artist's Studio, 1665-1666" is displayed on page 204 in black and white and in full color on page 205. This mixture of historical fact and present day view is carried out throughout the book.
The book begins with an explicit condemnation of the Nazi conquest. It is shown that the Nazi Germans prepared rather extensive documents identifying the art works of various nations and earmarking those works for transportation to the Third Reich. This is an amazing example of the arrogance of the Teutonic thoroughness of Hitler, Göring and the rest of the Nazi leadership. Speaking of Göring, it would seem that at the height of the war, his country "cabin, called "Carinhall", probably had more and better art than most museums in the western world. Page 45 records that Göring had a collection of approximately 1700 paintings. Sadly, there are too many pages in the book showing or identifying works of art that had been destroyed or had been lost. Page 285 shows, for example, Raphael's "Portrait Of A Young Man, 1516", which is still missing.
Still missing is the so-called "Amber Room" which was once located in the city of Königsberg in what was once Prussia. There are entire books, available on Amazon, dealing with the lost Amber Room. With the emphasis on the sins of the Third Reich, little notice is taken of the fact that the Soviets stole the entire city of Königsberg, which is now called Kaliningrad. In fact, Kaliningrad is a tiny piece of Russia, (the so-called Kaliningrad Oblast) stuck between Poland and Lithuania. In Kaliningrad, Russian is the official language and the postage stamps are Russian. Interesting.
And, of course, on a more mundane, but very telling level, there are the 5000+ bells that were stolen and the Dutch trolley cars being prepared for reparation to the Netherlands.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2007
This was a fascinating and disturbing account of the massive Nazi looting and subsequent recovery by the Allies. It is a story told mostly by pictures to the tune of about 20 pages of pictures for each page of print. It is promoted by the publisher as the biggest non-told story of WWII and he might be right; it diminished the German war effort and probably shortened the War. It was also about the massive and admirable effort by the so-called Allied `Monuments Men' to recover and redistribute the loot back to their rightful owners after the War.
Germany stole millions of art objects from occupied countries, and even from its own ally Italy, on the pretext of saving it from the `barbarian' invaders from the West. Monuments weighing tons, like the `Burghers of Calais' from France and the `Winged Lion' from atop the column in Florence's San Martin Square, were somehow lifted and hauled away. Also, 5000 church bells were stolen from Europe and 300 trolley cars were removed from Amsterdam. In short, they looted everything they could get their hands on, and they were good at it. There are good pictures of the bells and the trolley cars.
In Slavic countries such as Russia and Poland, the plundering was accompanied by an attempted systematic destruction of the culture itself; `inferior races' in Hitler's mind didn't deserve a history. The siege of Russia was particularly bad; 6000 hospitals were destroyed, and 86,000 elementary and secondary schools were destroyed. Decency had taken a long vacation in Germany.
Hitler was a master at destroying things. He destroyed a lot of Europe and Russia, and even extended his `scorched earth' policy to his own country when Germany was near defeat. Thankfully, that order was not faithfully carried out.
How could a country justify destroying the culture of another country? What were the people of Germany thinking when they elected this maniac as Chancellor in the 1930's? Why did they blindly follow him?
What were they thinking!!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2007
I have found that this remarkable story of WWII, art, mystery and intrigue (and the incredible photos that accompany it) make a wonderful gift for anyone. "Rescuing Da Vinci" is sitting on my living room coffee table and invariably becomes the topic of conversation with every guest in my home. Hats off to Mr. Edsel for delivering such a magnificent untold story!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I was really surprised by this book. I thought it was going to contain more text but it's really all about the art and the people who rescued it. The result is a very impressive, easily readable 'coffee table' style book that's beautiful and informative. Teachers should grab this up for the classroom and it also would make a great gift for anyone interested in WWII and it's aftermath. I can't say enough about the photos and the story they tell. Bravo!