Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Monuments Men by Robert Edsel

The subtitle on this book is: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History. It's very accurate.

It's World War II, and we know of all the sacrifice and pain that peoples of all types felt, especially Jews.

I've seen specials on the history channel about the types of arts that were stolen from the Jewish people and stored for the benefit of the German commanders and their causes (sometimes just their own enrichment). But I'd never heard of the Monuments Men!

It all started when one man took a great interest in how well art held up when it wasn't protected as it should be. He did research on that, tried to get the powers to be interested in his efforts, and had no success. But then one day, he enlisted in the service. He was not a young man, but war times make the branches of the service a bit less critical about that. They needed manpower.

And by pure chance, he meets another man who feels art has an importance and should be preserved. So they manage to get support to develop a team to go and attempt to save what hasn't been desecrated in the war zones, and to bring back any art that is movable for preservation purposes. It also became a matter of returning art to the rightful owners down the road.

The story is fascinating. It's all men except for one French woman who actually functioned as a spy while dealing with the Nazis. They are universally disrespected, thought of as unnecessary and in the way of war, and got no supplies for their work.

But the people were kind, the team persevered, and save some treasures they did. Others, they cried over the loss.

You'll recognize the names of the commanders in this book, but I'd never seen them presented in quite this context.

It catches your attention and the pages turn quickly - it's good read and teaches you at the same time.

If you'd like my copy of this ARC, please email me at (remove the no spam) with your name and address and tell me why you'd like it. Also, you must leave a comment here on my blog.

Happy reading!

1 comment:

Hels said...

Thanks for the link. As I said in my post, I knew a great deal about stolen art, but largely from the perspective of 17th century art plunders. This topic is the same yet it is different.

Art and Architecture, mainly