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The Venus Fixers: The Remarkable Story of the Allied Soldiers Who Saved Italy's Art During World War II First Edition Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Art and war come together in this superbly researched history that reveals how Italy’s Renaissance masterpieces were caught in the crossfire of World War II. Ilaria Dagnini Brey recounts how many of these works almost miraculously survived, and who we have to thank for saving them—a somewhat unlikely crew of art historians, scholars, and architects. She shows how their quiet courage stood between some of the world’s greatest treasures and a fate almost unbearable to contemplate.” —Ross King, author of Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture
“The Venus Fixers is an extraordinary story—tragic, poignant, and inspiring by turn. A must-read for anyone who recognizes that the mute victims of any country’s war are frequently its works of art, it brings to light a little-known and entirely absorbing aspect of World War II.” —Caroline P. Murphy, author of Murder of a Medici Princess
“Ilaria Dagnini Brey expertly recounts the race to protect masterpieces of art and architecture caught on the battlefront. Fascinating and brilliantly researched, The Venus Fixers is a story of Botticellis hidden in castles, the monuments officers’ heroism, and the art’s often narrow escape, played out against air strikes and looting, leveled churches and shattered frescoes.” —Cynthia Saltzman, author of Old Masters, New World: America’s Raid on Europe’s Great Pictures
“In this finely written and researched first book, full of anecdotes that will fascinate all art lovers, Ilaria Dagnini Brey adds wonderful insight and detail to the gripping story of the miraculous preservation of many of the world’s most treasured masterpieces during the Allied campaign in Italy. The heroes are the curators of Italy’s patrimony and the fabled monuments men attached to the Allied invasion forces, and Ms. Brey does them proud.” —Lynn H. Nicholas, author of The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe’s Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War
Top Customer Reviews
I am familiar with Italian Rennaisance art, with Florence, Rome and Sienna but still felt bogged down in all the minutae. The book had no central focus to drive the narrative - I understand that there were lots of different players involved who helped save the artwork of Italy... but the book never felt exciting - that we were a first hand witness to critical events - that the Venus Fixers raced to rescue the artistic jewels of Italy.
The book was interesting, just not engrossing. I was hoping that a story of Allied forces saving entire cities and their monuments and artwork from destruction would be thrilling - unfortunately, the Venus Fixers doesn't come close to that. It's more a laundry list of place names, beauracratic names and artwork. Most times when a famous piece of artwork was listed, there was no context for it. I always wanted to ask: why is that piece of art or that monument important?
Read the book for its detail, but don't expect it to be a page-turner.
Why: because it brought into focus, even to one like me, who lived during WWII in Europe, and lived under bombs and survived them, how little we know, how "nothing" really we know about the manner in which so many masterpieces we admire matter-of-factly at the Uffizi, Accademia, the Archaeological Museum in Napoli, the cathedrals which we visit and admire everywhere in Italy, the bridges, the Palazzi, etc., how all these were saved by only a small number of Allied officers and by the work of most of the 50 Italian superintendents who were entrusted with these treasures, alas! too late in some cases, when the Allied forces landing in Italy in 1943.
Much of the book concentrates on Tuscany and on Florence, but there is plenty about the South and the North of Italy.
Personally, I will never look in the same way at Boticelli's Primavera, I will never walk along the Lungarno in Florence without imagining palazzi destroyed, bridges over the Arno annihilated, the Palazzo Pitti serving as shelter for 6000 people while the bridges and palazzi of the Arno were being blasted, 6000 people living in the Pitti in the midst of the art treasures, cooking, sleeping, worrying, waiting the war out. Among them Carlo Levi, and the Guicciardinis of the street with the same name whose palazzo on the Lungarno was mined and blasted, so many others without famous names.Read more ›
The central point of this book might be summarized as: it is naïve to think a war can be choreographed to avoid damaging culturally important objects, but a few people with some support from leaders can limit looting, educate as to the importance of these objects and help to restore those objects that have been damaged. It is a measure of any nation's humanity that it can appreciate our shared culture, and the importance of the physical objects exemplifying that culture, even during war.
"If you remember, when some of that looting was going on, people were being killed, people were being wounded...It's as much as anything else a matter of priorities." This quote from Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Iraq, on the April 2003 looting of the Baghdad museum is included, without comment, at the start of the last chapter. It makes your heart ache.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Anything about the Monument Men is of interest to me since seeing the movie. I never knew they existed during the war, so this book was really interesting.Published 14 months ago by Ruth A. Miller
If this topic interests you, the book will certainly satisfy you. By no means a page turner, though...An understanding of Italian art helps.Published 18 months ago by scott m tatum
If Edsels book left you wanting more this book has it it brought the dangers of war to our history closer than ever.Published 18 months ago by Lindae
This is an amazing book. Better than Monument Men- the movie one. I have shared it with several people. It is a keeper book. Great research presented in a very readable way. Read morePublished 20 months ago by KDVH_FLA
Great item, good service, awesome transaction. Thanks. A+Published 22 months ago by Patrice Carpenter
Interesting but rather involved in the beginning, a little hard to follow. Towards the middle to the end of the book it gets more exciting.Published on July 26, 2014 by Polly Culp
The Venus Fixers is a fine companion to The Rape of Europa. This volume is academically sound with interesting anecdotal details that brings it alive. Read morePublished on July 12, 2014 by Patricia White
I did not realize how close we came to losing so many works of great art during WWII, and that a group of officers had been designated to save and restore these priceless works of... Read morePublished on May 2, 2014 by JMC