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The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History Mass Market Paperback – October 22, 2013
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
When Hitler's forces overran Europe they set about looting the national artistic treasures in a methodical manner. Priceless treasures were pillaged from the museums and galleries of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, and other European nations. All property belonging to Jews were taken. Hitler's dream was to create an enormous museum that would be the envy of the entire world. Instead he launched the most destructive war in history.
The allies were aware of the cultural heritage in the areas that they would be fighting. This is why the MFAA was created. The original MFAA officers were tasked with traveling into the war zones and identifying historic sites that needed to be preserved. The stories of what these men accomplished is truly amazing. Time after time they were able to save important buildings from being destroyed.
As the book progresses we see another dimension of their work. They began to investigate the Nazi looting. Their job shifted from simply protecting buildings from destruction to locating stolen works of art. At times the book resembles an action thriller story. The theft of priceless works of art. The heroic civilians who work undercover to spy on the Nazis.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent account of how the Nazis looted Europe. I was surprised to read the Third army found 175 repositories of artwork in a little more 30 days after the war ended. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Amazon Customer
Movie was better than the book, but reflected the history that was presented. I my seventy plus year I have only made that statement that the movie was better twice. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Lawrence A.Doyle
Very different from the movie. Nonetheless, I learned much about a subject concerning our cultural/historical inheritance almost lost to us and our future generations. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Trish Harmon
Huge kudos to Robert Edsel for taking on the task of writing and sharing this story.
It was well researched and the story flowed nicely, and I learnt a few things I... Read more
The movie made from this book was pretty good, but like always, the book was much better. Amazing bit of history.Published 27 days ago by Mister S.
This is seriously one of the best books I've read in awhile. Even if you have seen the movie, based on the book, you have no idea the magnitude of the thievery Europe endured in... Read morePublished 29 days ago by Linda L. Alderfer
this book provides a unique profile of each of the monument men who left colleges and new careers to go and serve their country when WWII broke out. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Helen Gilbart
I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would because of the approach the author took to writing it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Hannah Bowers