- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Picador; 1 edition (June 22, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312429908
- ISBN-13: 978-0312429904
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 45 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,351,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Venus Fixers: The Remarkable Story of the Allied Monuments Officers Who Saved Italy's Art During World War II 1st Edition
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“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
“A significant and original contribution to World War II and art history alike.” ―Gilbert Taylor, Booklist
“A thrilling adventure, full of scheming aesthetes and exploding Mantegnas . . . Brey tells this story with concision and grace.” ―Benjamin Moser, Harper's Magazine
“An illuminating book . . . Elegant and compelling history, which is equally a blueprint for the safeguarding of our human heritage in future struggles.” ―The American Scholar
“An engaging and important addition to the vast library of books about World War II . . . Brey has firm command of art and military history and does an excellent job of evoking the atmosphere of a war-torn country.” ―Michael Riedel, New York Post
“Brey makes a significant contribution by delving into previously unexplored Italian archives to flesh out the perspective of the native population amid the chaos of war.” ―Jonathan Lopez, The Boston Globe
About the Author
Ilaria Dagnini Brey is a journalist and translator who was born in Padua, Italy. She now lives in New York City with her husband, Carter Brey, the principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic. The Venus Fixers is her first book.
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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.