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Saving Italy : the race to rescue a nation's treasures from the Nazis
2013
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Genre
NonFiction
Arts
History
Topics
Art history
Stolen artifacts
Hidden treasure
Nazis
Artists
Military history
Art historians
Vatican
Setting
Italy - Europe
Time Period
-- 20th century
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Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

The victim of bombing, looting, and neglect, Italy both during and after the Allied invasion of World War II was a dangerous place for works of art and architecture. Members of a small Allied unit, the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Program (members were later nicknamed the "Monuments Men"), worked to save whatever they could even as the war raged around them. Edsel (The Monuments Men) concentrates on the work of these men as they sought to protect frescoes and monuments across Italy from Allied bombs. The author's use of memoirs, letters, and published reports brings out the voices of those involved. The book proceeds at a satisfying clip, with its final chapters forming a suspenseful narrative of the surrender of the Nazi forces in Italy. VERDICT Edsel's previous Monuments Men focused on this group's work in France, the UK, and northern Europe. Readers, especially those with some knowledge and love of Italian Renaissance art, will find this a satisfying complement to that book. A page-turner for a general history reader who enjoys art history, this is a lighter read than Ilaria Dagnini Brey's The Venus Fixers: The Untold Story of the Allied Soldiers Who Saved Italy's Art During World War II, which gives a fuller picture with more points of reference.-Jessica Spears, Cooper Union Lib., New York (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

In this thrilling new history, Edsel (The Monuments Men) describes the valiant Allied efforts to safeguard the great cultural treasures of an Italy knee-deep in the violence of WWII. The story focuses on three groups: the British and American scholars who form the Allies' Monuments, Fine Art and Archive (MFAA) team tasked with finding and protecting priceless stolen artworks; the Vatican clergy and museum directors responsible for the safety of their own collections; and the Nazi leaders who coveted Italy's Titians, da Vincis, and Botticellis. The cast of colorful characters includes an "introverted, sensitive" Yale art professor, a conflicted former archaeologist turned SS officer, and a Tuscan "Superintendent of Monuments and Galleries" whose job it was to get the great artworks out of Florence (where they risked being destroyed by Allied bombings) and into the countryside. Edsel has compiled an astonishing amount of primary research from European and American sources to tell this fascinating, fast-paced story, and military and art historians, as well as fans of adventurous nonfiction, will appreciate this well-written and informative reminder that war threatens not only the generations who fight it, but also the artistic triumphs of those who came before. 60 illus. & maps. Agent: Michelle Weiner, Creative Artists Agency. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
When Hitler's armies occupied Italy in 1943, they also seized control of mankind's greatest cultural treasures. As they had done throughout Europe, the Nazis could now plunder the masterpieces of the Renaissance, the treasures of the Vatican, and the antiquities of the Roman Empire.On the eve of the Allied invasion, General Dwight Eisenhower empowered a new kind of soldier to protect these historic riches. In May 1944 two unlikely American heroes--artist Deane Keller and scholar Fred Hartt--embarked from Naples on the treasure hunt of a lifetime, tracking billions of dollars of missing art, including works by Michelangelo, Donatello, Titian, Caravaggio, and Botticelli.With the German army retreating up the Italian peninsula, orders came from the highest levels of the Nazi government to transport truckloads of art north across the border into the Reich. Standing in the way was General Karl Wolff, a top-level Nazi officer. As German forces blew up the magnificent bridges of Florence, General Wolff commandeered the great collections of the Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace, later risking his life to negotiate a secret Nazi surrender with American spymaster Allen Dulles.Brilliantly researched and vividly written, Saving Italy brings readers from Milan and the near destruction of The Last Supper to the inner sanctum of the Vatican and behind closed doors with the preeminent Allied and Axis leaders: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Churchill; Hitler, Göring, and Himmler.An unforgettable story of epic thievery and political intrigue, Saving Italy is a testament to heroism on behalf of art, culture, and history.
Table of Contents
List of mapsp. xi
Author's Notep. xiii
A Note on the Textp. xvii
Main Charactersp. xix
Preludep. 1
Section IInception
1Changing of the Guardp. 9
2A New Type of Soldierp. 23
3"Bombs and Words"p. 31
4The Experiment Beginsp. 41
5Growing Painsp. 51
6A New Orderp. 59
7A Troubled Bunchp. 69
8Giftsp. 81
Section IIStruggle
9The First Testp. 93
10Close Callp. 103
11Refugep. 113
12Life on the Roadp. 123
13Treasure Huntp. 135
14Surprisesp. 141
15Guardian Angelsp. 153
16"Little Saints, Help Us"p. 165
17"The Most Beautiful Cemetery in the World"p. 177
18Whereabouts Unknownp. 187
19Resurrectionp. 201
20Christmas Wishesp. 207
Section IIIVictory
21Trouble in the Ranksp. 219
22Switching Sidesp. 229
23Operation Sunrisep. 241
24Complicationsp. 255
25Surrenderp. 269
26The Racep. 281
27The Big Movep. 295
Section IVAftermath
28Perspectivep. 309
29The Heroes and Their Legacyp. 321
Acknowledgmentsp. 341
Have You Seen These Works of Art?p. 347
Monuments Men and Women Serving in the Mediterranean Theaterp. 351
Notesp. 353
Bibliographyp. 425
Indexp. 441
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