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The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History [Hardcover]

Robert M. Edsel , Bret Witter
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 3 2009
At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: "degenerate" works he despised.
In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Momuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture.
Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world's great art from the Nazis.

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Review

"After World War Two I served as a British member of the 'Monuments' section in Germany. Our task, I believe, was truly important - we were restoring to Europe evidence of its own civilization, which the War seemed virtually to have destroyed - and I was lucky to have had a chance to participate. It is excellent that Mr Edsel has now recorded this remarkable episode, and I am grateful to him for devoting so much energy to telling the stories of those involved." -- Anne Olivier Bell "Highly Readable ... a remarkable history" Washington Post "Engaging and inspiring" Publishers Weekly --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Robert Edsel began his career in the oil and gas exploration business. In 1996 he moved to Europe to pursue his interests in the arts. Settling in Florence seeing some of the great works, he wondered how all of the monuments and art treasures survived the devastation of World War II. During the ensuing years, he devoted himself to finding the answer. In the process, he commissioned major research that has resulted in this book. Robert also coproduced the related documentary film, The Rape of Europa, and wrote Rescuing Da Vinci, a photographic history of an art heist of epic proportions and the Allied rescue effort. The author lives in Dallas.

Bret Witter cowrote the bestseller Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World (Grand Central, 2008). He lives in Louisville, KY.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Treasure worth the hunt! April 15 2010
By Kiki
Format:Hardcover
"The Monuments Men" brings to life the untold story of the heroes who risked everything to save the treasures stolen by Hitler and the Nazis. The world owes much to them for their selfless acts. In one word, this story is remarkable and every school library, military base, and political leader should own a copy as a reminder of the legacy of the Monuments Men and of the importance of protecting culture in times of conflict. The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read, but a bit sensationalized April 8 2014
By Dr. Tim Parker TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Most people will pick up this book because of the movie. Be warned in advance: this is a long book (500 pages) that will take a while to read. It's not really the sort of book you get hooked on and want to finish in one sitting.

What the book is based on is true, but there's a fair amount of artistic license in the telling of the story, blending history with fiction novel along the way. The subject, for those unaware, is the recovery of art and other artifacts stolen by the Nazis in the run-up and during World War 2. The facts behind this are well documented, as the Nazis actually kept decent records. This book becomes a combination of the story of the theft of the artworks, along with the team of Allies who tried to recover them, find their provenance, and orchestra their return to their original owners (when it was convenient).

The book won't grab you right away, unfortunately. The writing style is not gripping, and I often got distracted in the first third of the book, putting it down in favor of other things, simply because I couldn't get hooked into the story. The history is interesting, but it is conveyed in a style that simply didn't rivet me to the page. The writing does pick up, part way through, but even then, it ebbs and wanes as you work your way through all the pages.

I had a few issues with the creative license the author used, too. Knowing a bit of the history from previous research into the subject, there's a general adherence to the facts, but some of the players are out of proportion and some of the history has been "massaged" for effect. In the end, I treated the book more as a story than a history, as there are much better history books on this subject ("The Rape of Europa" is the classic reference).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Re: So Much was Accomplished by so Few. July 17 2014
Format:Paperback
The Monuments Men, is the story of how a small group of individuals operated selflessly to find, save and return the public and private historical art, sculptures, and valuables of western Europe, which the Nazi's had stolen. The book describes the invaluable contribution of European museum staff, who made records of each of the art pieces moving through local temporary storage for transit further east to Germany; kept personal records of who they belonged to; and where they were shipped, making traceability and return of the art to the rightful owners possible. While Hitler did destroy numerous pieces of art and sculpture produced by Jewish artists, many were saved from destruction through the actions of the Monument Men.During the search by the Monuments Men, stolen objects were found in the homes of senior Nazis, old buried oil barrels, munitions dumps and old castles and mines, and a number of other locations.

In his madness, Hitler issued orders for the destruction of millions of pieces of European art, documents, sculptures, etc, should he be defeated. Hitler's subordinates had crated thousands of tonnes of explosives and planted nitro glycerine with the art that was stolen and stored in metal mines and salt mines deep in Germany/Austria. In the end some of Hitlers senior staff tried to get him to reverse his apocalyptic destruction, failing to do so. However, the complete destruction never took place with mystery and speculation surrounding the reasons.

While the race between the US and Russia to get to the treasures was mentioned, the book focused more on the search process and human values and qualities of those who contributed so much to the world by saving European cultural history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Art Preservation And WWII March 13 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Gread read and insight into history.Recommend if interested in some history other than, combat,into World War II. Light on countries involvement other than US.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good read March 12 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found this book to be a great, slightly fictionalized for readability historical account of the great work done by the "Monuments Men" of the allied forces to save and restore to proper ownership much of the art stolen by the Nazis during WW2. It is well referenced and reads very easily for a book with good historical accuracy.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars July 4 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Not up to expectations
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4.0 out of 5 stars the near loss of our material culture May 16 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
All that “art” — nearly lost. I never knew.
The movie was a cartoon, but a heartfelt one — it made me want to know more about this exceptional part of our history. The book it was based on was the logical place to go. Not a great book, but fascinating and sobering.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Monuments Men are Boring
Very disappointed. Slow, meandering writing. The movie wasn't any better either.
Published 1 month ago by Ron gabriel
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book - I have trouble putting it down
Excellent book - I have trouble putting it down. It documents a lot of history that I had never heard of before. This is a must buy for your History library.
Published 2 months ago by Judy D. Leamen
5.0 out of 5 stars Book review
I really enjoyed reading a book that provided a theme that is different from the usual journal of military operations. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Gordie Rowe
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting account of some amazing and talented people you...
This is a real life mystery/thriller about a little known aspect of WWII. It's surprising to learn how obsessed the Nazis were about acquiring Europe's great works of art and... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Judith Seligy
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting
Great story but sometimes got bogged down by being repetitive.
Looking forward to seeing how accurate the movie is. More info on the current hunt would be nice.
Published 7 months ago by Jen
5.0 out of 5 stars War history I never knew
Eye opening, part history, part story, you learn lots and are kept interested the whole way through. I wish I read this before going to Europe this past summer.
Published 9 months ago by Rachel P
5.0 out of 5 stars A glimpse behind the stage of WAR
This book was a fascinating read….We are very appreciative of the Military Officials and Governments who assembled the amazing international group of talented people who were able... Read more
Published 10 months ago by x
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