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The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History [Kindle Edition]

Robert M. Edsel , Bret Witter
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,782 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $10.00
Kindle Price: $8.99
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Sold by: Hachette Book Group

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Book Description

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 unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Momuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture.
Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world's great art from the Nazis.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

WWII was the most destructive war in history and caused the greatest dislocation of cultural artifacts. Hundreds of thousands of items remain missing. The main burden fell to a few hundred men and women, curators and archivists, artists and art historians from 13 nations. Their task was to save and preserve what they could of Europe's great art, and they were called the Monuments Men. (Coincidentally or not, this book appears only briefly after Ilaria Dagnini Brey's The Venus Fixers: The Untold Story of the Allied Soldiers Who Saved Italy's Art During World War II, Reviews, June 1.) Edsel has presented their achievements in documentaries and photographs. He and Witter (coauthor of the bestselling Dewey) are no less successful here. Focusing on the organization's role in northwest Europe, they describe the Monuments Men from their initial mission to limit combat damage to structures and artifacts to their changed focus of locating missing items. Most had been stolen by the Nazis. In southern Germany alone, over a thousand caches emerged, containing everything from church bells to insect collections. The story is both engaging and inspiring. In the midst of a total war, armies systematically sought to mitigate cultural loss. (Sept. 3)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"After World War Two I served as a British member of the 'Monuments' section in Germany. Our task, I believe, was truly important - we were restoring to Europe evidence of its own civilization, which the War seemed virtually to have destroyed - and I was lucky to have had a chance to participate. It is excellent that Mr Edsel has now recorded this remarkable episode, and I am grateful to him for devoting so much energy to telling the stories of those involved." -- Anne Olivier Bell "Highly Readable ... a remarkable history" Washington Post "Engaging and inspiring" Publishers Weekly

Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
192 of 200 people found the following review helpful
By EJ
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If I had written this review when I was only 25% of the way through this book, I would have given it 2 stars. The beginning of the book can only be described as plodding and in my opinion was not very well constructed. However, I hung in there and the payoff came in the remainder of the book.

The book describes an overlooked group of men and women who served during WWII to save priceless buildings and works of arts in Europe. It also describes the internal conflicts of these folks who wondered, for example, if the German people deserved the return of their Nazi-stolen art. The efforts of these dedicated service-men and -women were, naturally enough, largely overshadowed by the inarguably more important discoveries at the end of WWII, such as the truths revealed by the liberation of the concentration camps. This book is thus a wonderful contribution to an overlooked history of the time.

The end of the book describes the discovery of hidden German repositories of art; the volume and quality of art found in these hiding places is absolutely staggering. I had the pleasure of seeing Michelangelo's flawless Madonna when I was in Bruges and was riveted by her WWII story, which was not described in any detail in the materials given out by the museums there.

In summary: stick with it. The book had some problems with flow, especially in the beginning, but the payoff of the middle and ending was worth it.
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274 of 294 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A FASCINATING ACCOUNT OF A NEGLECTED WW2 TOPIC September 3, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The most devastating damage and acts of looting of art objects in the annals of history took place during World War Two.These were perpetrated by the Nazi hordes ,carefully directed by the Fuhrer himself.The Nazi army was perpetually pillaging the finest art in Europe.The vain Goering and Alfred Rosenberg were among the main culprits involved in those brutal crimes against the human creative talent.
Fortunately,there was a Western Allied effort to mitigate combat damage, primarily to structures-churches,museums, and other various monuments.In the course of those brutal years, particularly during 1943-1944,the Allies paid much more attention to finding and protecting cultural items which were stolen from their owners,many of which were Jews.The bosses of the Third Reich transported more than five million cultural objects to many sites in Germany, where they hid them , hoping that one day they would not only be the masters of the world, but also the masters of art.
More than 350 men and women served as Monuments People.This number was culled from thirteen nations.In the end, only a handful of them were active and this book is their story.It was the responsibility of this group to save as much of the European culture as it could.
Mt. Edsel has been living in Florence ,Italy, in the 1990s when he wondered how so many of Europe's monuments and other works of art could have survived this unprecedented orgy of destruction.Thus, he set out to conduct a very careful process of extremely meticulous research which led him ultimately to interview those soldiers who have risked and dedicated their lives pursuing this mission.Many of them were art curators,scholars, educators, architects and archivists in their early forties.
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247 of 268 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Even before the first shots of World War II were fired in September 1939, Adolf Hitler was dreaming of transforming his hometown of Linz into a kind of Nazi cultural capital, and his political aides were helping him earmark works of art from around Europe that could be added to his collection. Unlike today's avid collectors, however, Hitler opted to obtain his works via looting, confiscation or as a kind of trade for the owner's survival, safety or escape from the Nazi regime. The fight to retrieve this art and return it to its former owner goes on to this day; the Amber Room is still missing from the Tsarist palaces of St. Petersburg, while works by Klimt have only recently been returned to the families of their original owners.

That's the backdrop against which Robert Edsel (and his writer, Brett Witter) craft their story of the adventures of six very different "Monuments Men", a motley crew of artists, curators and other types who landed on the beaches of Normandy in the wake of D-Day and, hitchiking from one town to another, battled to protect, rescue and, later, retrieve lost masterpieces. The material in the book is compelling, but the way in which it's delivered and presented falls short, which astonished me given the sheer drama of the quixotic adventures of the monuments men. Part of the problem are the ultra-short chapters (sometimes only three or four pages), which just gave me a chance to immerse myself in what one of the monuments men was up to before it jumped, sometimes both geographically and thematically, to another chapter dealing with something else. I ended up feeling dizzy and distracted.

I also struggled with two elements in the writing of the book.
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121 of 137 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Read "The Rape Of Europa" instead October 28, 2013
Format:Paperback
The author's clumsy, repetitive style makes "Monuments Men" unreadable. Try the brilliant "The Rape Of Europa" by Lynn H. Nicholas, which includes vastly more information about the art, the Nazi's systematic plundering and the story of the Monuments Men. Plus it reads like a thriller!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Worth every minute of reading. Interest kept throughout.
Published 23 minutes ago by Abraham M. MANN
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
My son and I both loved this, and we have VERY different interests usually! Well-paced, exciting AND informative
Published 6 hours ago by Linda B. Nelson
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the movie & I enjoyed that.
Appreciate Robert Edsel's drive to publicize the saving of art & culture during WWII.
Dismayed that Moslem extremists are now destroying ancient churches & denigrating... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Reader 7
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
nice story
Published 2 days ago by Jo-Ann
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read for Anyone That Loves Art, Adventure and History
This amazing story needs to be read and re-read. The Monuments Men of WWII worked to make miracles happen and saved a world of Art and artifacts for future generations. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Janine M. Hackett
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Hard to get in to, but once it peaked my interest, I couldn't put it down until the end.
Published 3 days ago by Lorri Hartman
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
very good book about side events that happened during World War II
Published 3 days ago by Linda L. Boote
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Tried and tried but could not just get into it.
Published 3 days ago by D. Paton
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
It didn't hook me as I expected it would have.
Published 3 days ago by M. Helmbrecht
2.0 out of 5 stars FROM PAGE ONE THE AUTHOR FORGETS THAT IT WAS THE ...
FROM PAGE ONE THE AUTHOR FORGETS THAT IT WAS THE AMERICAN WEIGHT OF MEN AND MATERIEL THAT SAVED THE BRIT'S BUTTS IN NORTH AFRICA AND SICILY AND THEN WENT ON TO SECURE MAINLAND... Read more
Published 4 days ago by History Buff
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Topic From this Discussion
Where were the Monuments Men during the invasion of Iraq?
There has not been a group like this since WWII and that is a shame. We must learn from history. They were so successful in Europe, but where were they in Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq?? Is it because our military leaders since Gen. Eisenhower do not care to save... Read More
Dec 3, 2009 by Jason Greene |  See all 7 posts
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