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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 (1,797 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
196 of 204 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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275 of 295 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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122 of 139 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
Excellent!
Published 2 days ago by MARY C CRAIG
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
This book made history very interesting. Much has been written about battles during the war, but not much about what was happening to art work during this time.
Published 4 days ago by happy gardener
5.0 out of 5 stars Major wow
An amazing, detailed book that takes you into the hearts and minds and places of those who cared so deeply about the world's art treasures. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Eileen Guenther
3.0 out of 5 stars I love reading about WWII history
I love reading about WWII history, and I had high hopes for this book, but it disappointed me. A little too informational, leaning on boring. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Ron Parham
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read, and a good follow up on the ...
excellent read, and a good follow up on the books ,"citizen soldiers",and " band of brothers" thanks to the Wood authorers, Leo Wood
Published 7 days ago by Leo B. Wood
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great Book - better than the movie. Well written and captivating.
Published 7 days ago by J Krafft
1.0 out of 5 stars Textbook Reading
This book was a book club pick and I could not get through it. I listened on CD and maybe if I could have skimmed over and jumped forward I may have liked it but I finally gave up... Read more
Published 8 days ago by Audrey Anderson
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great book. So much more information than the movie.
Highly recommend this book.
Published 8 days ago by Sara Franzen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book
Published 8 days ago by manilo
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
an unbelievable part of history I never thought about
Published 8 days ago by gus
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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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