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on May 6, 2013
I couldn’t put it down! Saving Italy is a page turner with a compelling narrative that often keeps you on the edge-of-your-seat with suspense. The drawings that Monuments Man Deane Keller sent home to his young son offer a revealing insight into the man’s mixed emotions about his eagerness to help save the treasures of a country he loved in the midst of war, coupled with the loneliness and isolation he felt being separated from the family he adored. The passion and impulsiveness of Monuments Man Fred Hartt help the thrilling adventure of Saving Italy come alive. Edsel does a great job bringing out the very human side of his complex characters, including a little known Nazi General, Karl Wolff. The book is well-researched with many author interviews noted, but is presented in a way that reads more like an espionage novel. I highly recommend Saving Italy not just to those who love art or WWII History, but to anyone looking for an inspiring story about the human spirit and the sacrifices people make to follow their passion, risking their lives for a cause greater than themselves. Five stars doesn't seem like enough!
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on June 6, 2013
What an amazing story! My father lived in Italy during WWII and I never spoke with him when he was alive about how it was in Italy during the war. Many cities experienced much destruction, including Naples, Milan, Florence and Monte Cassino. In 1980 I saw DaVinci's fresco The Last Supper and there were photos of the destruction of the church where the fresco was. Did not dawn on me that it was allied bombs which blew up the church but the bombing was of the train yards right near the church. Even in a brutal war men realized the importance of these masterpieces, men on both sides of the war. The story that is told is incredible and I am surprised it took this long to get this story out there. I see where a movie is being made on this subject and will be released in December. Interwoven in the story is the German surrender in Italy and how complicated it was, the Germans just could not surrender that easy. Also did not know all the bridges in Florence were blown up by the Germans (rebuilt after the war) except for the Ponte Vecchio (which Hitler loved that bridge). The bombing of the abbey in Monte Cassino, allied forces had no choice but to bomb it. All the men searching for these masterpieces, college professors, museum curators, what a story. Thank you Robert Edsel for writing this story.
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on May 13, 2013
This is an amazing story about a part of WWII history that I was not familiar with. The author did a great job researching and writing this compelling narrative about a "new kind of soldier" empowered to protect rather than destroy. I have read many books about the war but can't remember one that included so many rich details. The characters practically leap off the page. The story is fast-paced, reading more like fiction. As a reader I felt like I was almost part of the adventure. One of the most interesting plots in Saving Italy involves a secret Nazi surrender of Italy in which the art work is held hostage while an SS General negotiates with American spies. I was surprised and riveted by these details. Overall, this is an exciting read and I would highly recommend it. (And I can't wait to see the Clooney movie based on the author's last book, The Monuments Men.)

Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation's Treasures from the Nazis
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on October 21, 2017
For anyone interested in European art history, the stories told both in this book and The Monument Men should be considered. Art history isn't just about how art developed over time, but also how it maintained over time. World War 2 presented an extreme threat to a very large quantity of the world's most precious art objects.
Saving Italy and The Monument Men explain how a small select group of art professionals worked with the Allied military to both minimize damage to art treasures as well as recover those taken by the Axis powers. Both books explain the extrordinary success of this small MFAA group spanning from 1943 through 1946.
It should be recognized that the story still is not over as there are still thousands of art pieces that are still missing or not returned to their original owners.
If like World War 2 stories and have an interest in art, I highly recommend both books by the same author. If you choose to read both books, I would recommend reading Saving Italy first as it actually precedes The Monument Men on a WW2 timeline, even though the author wrote them in reverse sequence. Methods developed and determined to be successful in Italy were put in place before the D-day invasion of western Europe.
Both books are highly readable. I recommend using your favorite search engine and Wikipedia to look up the artwork as you read these books, which will add to your appreciation. Btw, the author did include maps in Saving Italy, which helped a lot.
I highly recommend both books.
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on November 19, 2017
This is a title for diehard WWII history buffs. In fact, as I plodded along, I thought I would never 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)
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on June 11, 2014
And while you're at it, read "Monuments Men" and "Saving Michelangelo," too. The artists of our world have created an amazing constellation of spectacular art -- art which, beyond chronicling our cultural history, also lifts the soul and inspires us with a belief in something more important than ourselves.

Great works of art, humble works of art, art as diverse as equatorial biology, are often threatened when nations go to war, and for most of world history these great collections ended up in the hands of the victors. Not so starting with World War II, when a feisty, knowledgeable, and extraordinarily dedicated team of men went to work in order to save the western world's cultural history. For anyone who has ever gasped when, for the first time, they beheld the sublime grace of Michelangelo's David, or for anyone who rounded a corner in Florence's Uffizi and come face to face with the breathtaking reality of a Botticelli, this book will imbue you with an appreciation for the tenuous thread that separated the world's greatest artwork from oblivion. It was hard work, risky work, dirty work for the Monuments Men, but they went about their business with no notion that their efforts would be recognized. They did their dangerous work for the sake of the masterpieces to which they were committed. Many spectacular works were lost forever, but most were saved through the efforts of the Monuments Men.

Edsel outlines these remarkable efforts in part as a testimony to the men and women who helped to secure these great treasures for the world, and in part to demonstrate the enormous value they hold to the world. Our cultural heritage helps to define us as individuals and as nations. When we lose it, we lose our way in a changing and increasingly expedient world.

Hats off, and a moment of silent gratitude, please, for Mr. Robert Edsel. He recognized the greatness of this effort, pried the facts out from under the sealed floorboards of history, and brought this story to life for the world. Thanks for that. Now, knowing how close we came to losing it, the David is even more remarkable and precious.
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on August 9, 2013
I was drawn to this book after reading a review of it in the paper. I ended up purchasing the entire set of Edsel's books on this topic, all of which were excellent. Saving Italy was particularly powerful as I have traveled to Italy and seen first hand some of the treasures that would have been unavailable had this intervention not taken place. It is amazing given the demands of WWII that we were wise and committed enough to initiate such an undertaking. The photo's were great, the stories the same, both of the intervening specialists from the Allies and the local folks determined to save their treasures. Most of whom were amazingly creative and successful in securing their art. It also added a new depth of understanding of the greed and ruthlessness of the Nazi forces even with an alleged ally, organization is not always for good it seems.
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on May 9, 2014
In his extraordinary book, "Monuments Men", Robert M. Edsel explains that the effort to save the Museum Quality Paintings and Art Objects the Nazi's were pilfering during the occupation of Italy was so complex and of such a large scale that it had to be written separately from the story of their work in Europe.

If you enjoyed "Monuments Men", you will love "Saving Italy." While the goals were the same for both the European and Italian Monuments Men, the situation was different in Italy requiring different detective skills and rescue planning techniques from those used in Europe. Readers may enjoy learning about the role The Vatican played in this determined effort to get the Art back where it belonged or protect it from being looted in the first place. Readers may be saddened by the destruction of many irreplaceable architectural treasures which were destroyed by the Nazis just out of pure spite as they were losing the war.

This is another great read.

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on February 13, 2014
Robert Edsel and Lynn Nicholas are the historians who first brought the heroic deeds of the MAFAA men out of obscurity and into the public, Assignmed by President Roosevelt to try to salvage, rescue and save the enormous amount of art the Nazis systematically looted throughout Europe, theirs is part detective story, part tragedy, part romance and all fascinating. Whether it was fine art looted from prominment European Jewish families, sculpture and paintings ripped from the walls of museums, it was systematically stolen by the Nazis at the orders of Hitler and his minions, stashed in their mansions and hidden in castles, chateaus and mansions. Recovering, preserving and returning the Western world's great cultural treasures may seem tiny compared to the great battles and the horror of the camps, but art is important to civilzation and maybe even defines what civilization is. Focusing on Monuments Man George Stout's efforts to save the art of Italy, Edsel's book is a compelling companion to the larger "Monuments Men" his more comprehensive overview of the work to save all of Europe's great treasures.
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on July 10, 2014
If you don't have a good art history background, this book is not for you. The works of art that the monuments men were in charge of saving are mentioned, but by and large are not pictured. The book describes the many battles that threatened the art, and in some cases destroyed.
I was expecting more detail about the negotiations to recover the art, and descriptions of the actual rescuing of art stolen by the Nazi, and/or hidden by both collaborators, the Vatican, and the Italian art historians who resisted the plundering of their national treasures.
The book mostly focuses on 2 Americans and their travels through Italy to survey the damage wrought by bombing, and storage, as well as their valiant efforts to make the military help them with their rescue missions. Near the end of the book, the author touches on the negotiations between high ranking Nazis and the Monuments Men to have them turn over thier stolen art, but it was not a very detailed account.
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