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Saving Italy: The Race...
Robert M. Edsel
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Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation's Treasures from the Nazis

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  699 ratings  ·  134 reviews
"A poignant, fascinating story, bringing to life the soldier-scholars who saved Italy's treasures."-Evan Thomas, best-selling author of Ike's Bluff and Sea of ThunderWhen 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 Renaissan...more
ebook, 464 pages
Published May 6th 2013 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Washington Post
In 1914, shortly after Germany invaded neutral Belgium, the German authorities exacted revenge for the shooting of several of their soldiers on patrol in Louvain. They executed more than 200 civilians, then methodically set fire to homes and to the University of Louvain’s library. About 250,000 books went up in flames, including 800 that had been printed before the year 1500. Rebuilt and lavishly restocked between the wars, the library once again went up in flames in May 1940, the result of Germ...more
Having recently read The Monuments Men, and having seen the movie based on the book, I had to read Edsel's account of the work done by those involved with the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Section in the Italian theater. In as much as I'm more familiar with the "terrain" of Italy, particularly Florence, Rome, and, to a lesser extent, Pisa, than I am with northern Europe, this volume resonated with me. Salvaging, preserving, and recovering the noblest, most transcendent works of humanity, in...more
An interesting, and to me unknown, story of the units sent into Europe with the Allied invasions to assess and protect as-possible the historic monuments and great art of Italy. The title is catchy, but misleading--the Allied "Monument Men" helped find or repair a great deal, but a great deal was lost, as well. The Italians themselves actually saved more art (the book's cover shows Michelangelo's David, which the Uffizi bricked up in a preservative silo, along with M's Slaves and other sculpture...more
Jane Thompson
I learned a great deal from this book. Even though I have done extensive reading about WWII, I did not know that we (the Allies) had bombed Milan, Rome, Pisa, and Florence. It never occurred to me that we would have done so. I was surprised to read of the losses to the art world caused by the War. However, I found the interminable discussion of the negotiations for the surrender of Italy to be boring. I had to skip a lot of that. Otherwise, I enjoyed the book and am glad I read it.
Pmalcpoet Pat Malcolm
Heartbreaking and thrilling, the story of the Monuments Men in Italy during and immediately after WWII. Edsel has painstakingly reconstructed and related events in their chronological form, some of which were not known in their entirety until years after the war. The book covers the efforts of men from both sides of the war who appreciated the value of some of civilizations greatest masterpieces and attempted to safeguard, or recover, or reconstruct so many of them. It attempts to untangle the c...more
This book is a companion piece to - but definitely not as engaging as - the author's excellent 2009 book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History (let's refer to it as MM), which I had really enjoyed.

This particular book is weighed down by a lengthy digression (in Section III) about a top Nazi working behind the scenes with other Nazis to arrange for the surrender of the German army in Italy (as well as rivalries between some of the Nazi bigwigs,...more

I started reading this without realizing this was Edsel's third book about the Monuments Men, in part because I had seen the trailer for the upcoming movie, "The Monuments Men." I still found this to be an interesting book, although the middle got a bit bogged down by war strategy talk which was less interesting to me overall. Still I found much of this book interesting enough to think about reading some of the other installments in the trilogy. I think the after-the-colon title makes this seem...more
Margaret Sankey
Edsel's third book about the Monuments Men and their attempt to locate, preserve and in some cases, rescue from planned destruction the cultural heritage of Europe, usually in conflict with bombing targeting, partisan activity and retreating Nazis. This volume concentrates on Italy, with a specific cast of art historians, artists and landscape architects recruited from British and American academia. From the way he describes them, the field reports of arriving in Italian towns ahead of the army,...more
Much better written than Edsel's previous book "The Monuments Men". A very interesting story of efforts to protect Italy's cultural heritage during WW II.
Patrick SG
Having read "The Monuments Men" a couple years ago, this book is more of a war story than that one was. It focuses more on the particulars of the Italian campaign and how the Monuments Men fit into that, while the other book was necessarily more diffuse. Actually, this story might have made a better source for the recent film.
Jennifer Meyer
Better than The Monuments Men. Fascinating look at efforts in Italy.
After attending a lecture by the author, Robert Edsel, I just had to read this follow-up to “The Monuments Men”. While it is certainly about saving art treasures, it equally addresses the politics of their disposition. Rome, Florence, Naples, Milan, Venice, Pisa… Art was a propaganda tool of both the Allies and Nazis. Instead of "finding the art" (as in the prior book), it's about using Italian art as a "ransom" and as negotiating element to actually end the war in Italy (which had a tremendous...more
Linda Hunt
When I read the synopsis, I was thinking I was getting more of a story than a timeline. Saving Italy turned out to be rather a mixture of both, and I think if I'd not been listening to it on Playaway, I might not have made it through the first part in order to get to the more interesting rest of the book. Thankfully, I was and I did! The author has done his homework, and he gave SO much interesting information concerning the Germans and their march through Italy, particularly pertaining to the a...more
John Betts
I needed a break from books on Ancient Greece and Rome in my current graduate studies, so found this story to be quite welcome. Ok, the subject may be somewhat related, however tangentially, but the tale the author relates was one I was only scantly aware of beforehand. The recent movie "Monuments Men", based on an earlier book by the author of this one, and the cover photo of a couple of WWII soldiers standing in front of Michelangelo's "David", sparked my interest. Edsel masterfully weaves his...more
Fascinating way to view WWII Italian theater through the lens of the Monuments Men following the 5th Army. The story of the German general's surrender while using the stolen Italian art as the trump card is so little known and so compelling. A great historical read.
Edsel did an impressive amount of research into the U.S. Army unites who were tasked with saving European art from both the Nazis and the Allied bombers. Disasters like Monte Casino taught the Allies that if European cultural heritage was to be saved, careful planning, strategic raids and heroic rescue efforts would all be necessary. As a child, I was fascinated by the story of the Army unit that saved the horses of the Spanish Riding School. Disney even made a movie about that episode. An aston...more
This was one of the "Monuments Men" books by Robert Edsel, covering US, Italian and German officers tasked with saving works of art and historic buildings during WWII. I enjoyed learning how this program came about (under the direction of George Stout!), how the Americans saved artwork at the same furious pace as NAZI leaders (Goering, Hitler) were stealing it and shipping it off to Germany for their private collections -- and how much of this was facilitated by Mussolini and his fascist gang. I...more
This is an interesting book and I learned something completely new - it is about saving Italy's art treasures and masterpieces during World War II; however, it reads as a (very long) newspaper article rather than a book. (It is written by the same person who wrote Monuments Men that became a George Clooney movie.)
The book is full of facts - who did what, at what point of the war, in what city, on behalf of what organization, on what date, and how they did it. Not only the Allies were trying to...more
I chose this book because of the forthcoming movie "Monuments Men" and because I was planning a trip to Italy. I have a longstanding interest in European history and art history--not an expert in either--and this book frankly surprised me. I did not know about the bombing of Florence or Milan or the maneuvering by certain German officers to use Italian art treasures as bargaining chips as the war was ending. For me, personally, "Saving Italy" was a worthwhile read that enlightened me about aspec...more
Very interesting book, thoroughly researched. Describes the efforts to protect Italian art during World War II, but not just from the point of view of the Allies - also from the German perspective.
Suffers from the same problems I noted in my review of Monuments Men, but still a must read!
Another fascinating story about saving the art and monuments of Europe during WWll. The characters do not seem as fully developed as in The Monuments Men, but the story is fascinating and, in the end, very satisfying. The men and women who served in all aspects of this horrible war are the real is the art. Some of the names and details were confusing, but I suspect that was more my problem than the author's fault. I would highly recommend this to anyone who appreciates art and who...more
more on the story of the men who saved the art of Europe, this time the men in Italy. interesting on how they tried to save monuments but the Germans made it difficult. also interesting that the Germans stole the art that they saw as "germanic" and left the masters of the Renaissance. it is amazing that this old painting were bundled up and hauled all over the place, stored in crappy areas. the old guys were "really tough" today we treat them literally with "white gloves" then they just hauled t...more
I had read "The Monuments Men," and I think that this was a more accessible piece of work. Of course, it could just be that I'm in Italy right now so I can put a place to the names. I think that may be one of the reasons that I enjoyed this book more....I can actually go and see what he's talking about. I also enjoyed the contrast of what happened in Italy versus what happened in Occupied Europe (France, Belgium, etc.), which was outlined in "Monuments Men." Both books have a thick prose, but th...more
While I did not read the Monuments Men book yet, I expect that it will be of the same quality of this book with a much broader scope. The important and, up to now, little told story of these men, who made a HUGE impact on the war effort in the hearts and minds camp cannot be ignored anymore. We tend to only think about wars in terms of battles, casualties and wins and losses, but the whole endeavor is so much more complex, and this book helps to shed light on just a small corner of the entire ex...more
Elizabeth K.
Oct 10, 2013 Elizabeth K. rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Book Beast review
Shelves: 2013-new-reads
Wow, this book was long. The author is documenting the work of the art historians who served in the military during WWII and were charged with protecting the artistic and cultural treasures of Italy, both from Nazi pilfering and from war-related damage.

The passion the author has for this work is apparent. It also feels like it knows no end. There is a lot of information in this book, and it's very dense. I say that has a person who has studied art history and is very familiar with (parts of) Ita...more
As with The Monuments Men, I found this book to be absolutely wonderful. It was an excellent history of the campaign in Italy as well as a clear history of the MFAA division's efforts to save, recover and restore the cultural patrimony of Italy. Though these men were not combat soldiers, instead earning the name scholar-soldiers, the Monuments men were heroes and helped to save not just the art and monuments but also the cultural heritage of the world. Without them, such treasures as da Vinci's...more
Ann Sloan
This book was one of the selections I read for the Kimbell Museum’s book club. The group had a lively discussion; this is an important book and very dense. The discussion didn’t cover every issue I would have like it to do, but time is always a consideration.

I must confess that I was crying much of the time I was reading this book due to the intensity of the writing and the story Edsel was telling. I was fortunate enough to have been able to visit Florence and Siena a few years ago. If you have...more
Curt Hopkins Hopkins
I didn't like this book nearly as much as I liked "The Monuments Men," Edsel's first book on the cadre of soldiers - art historians, painters, architects, and so on, many of whom took prominent places in America's arts establishment, along with the noncoms and privates and sergeants who assisted - who protected, saved and hunted down the art the Nazi thugs and middle-brows destroyed and stole. But it is certainly worth reading - and is an easy read at that.

Part of the lesser quality I'm quite s...more
This is the riveting story of the work done by Allied forces to preserve the cultural heritage of Italy, and the world, during WWII. Monuments officers risked their lives to track down works of art looted by the Nazis upon orders from Hitler and Goring. They also devised brilliant efforts, alongside Italian officials, to protect monuments within their control from destruction. For instance, Michelangelo's "David" and his "Prisoners" were bricked up in silo looking objects within Florence's Accad...more
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The Plastics Mond...: Goodreads post 3 1 3 Apr 21, 2014 06:25AM  
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Robert M. Edsel is the best-selling author of Saving Italy, The Monuments Men and Rescuing da Vinci and co-producer of the award-winning documentary film The Rape of Europa. Edsel is also the founder and president of the Monuments Men Foundation, a recipient of the National Humanities Medal, and a trustee at the National WWII Museum. After living in Florence for five years, he now resides in Dalla...more
More about Robert M. Edsel...
The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History Rescuing Da Vinci Rose Valland: Resistance at the Museum Beyond the Dreams of Avarice: The Hermann Goering Collection

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