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

( 163 )

Overview

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...

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

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Jonathan Yardley
Were the Allied (mostly American) soldiers who rescued works of art stolen by the Nazis before and during World War II really heroes, as Robert M. Edsel claims in The Monuments Men, or were they good men—aided by one resourceful, determined French woman—who were simply, in the best sense of the phrase, just doing their jobs? My vote is for the latter…Still, for the most part they have receded into the fog of history…and that is a pity, so it is good to have them given recognition in The Monuments Men. It's a somewhat problematical book…But it's a terrific story, and it certainly is good to give these men (and that one remarkable woman) their due.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
WWII was the most destructive war in history and caused the greatest dislocation of cultural artifacts. Hundreds of thousands of items remain missing. The main burden fell to a few hundred men and women, curators and archivists, artists and art historians from 13 nations. Their task was to save and preserve what they could of Europe's great art, and they were called the Monuments Men. (Coincidentally or not, this book appears only briefly after Ilaria Dagnini Brey's The Venus Fixers: The Untold Story of the Allied Soldiers Who Saved Italy's Art During World War II, Reviews, June 1.) Edsel has presented their achievements in documentaries and photographs. He and Witter (coauthor of the bestselling Dewey) are no less successful here. Focusing on the organization's role in northwest Europe, they describe the Monuments Men from their initial mission to limit combat damage to structures and artifacts to their changed focus of locating missing items. Most had been stolen by the Nazis. In southern Germany alone, over a thousand caches emerged, containing everything from church bells to insect collections. The story is both engaging and inspiring. In the midst of a total war, armies systematically sought to mitigate cultural loss. (Sept. 3)
Library Journal
Adolf Hitler's plan for the subjugation of the world included its culture and treasures. Art was to be taken from conquered countries and stored in Germany until Hitler could build the world's largest museum complex in his hometown of Linz, Austria. It was the job of the Monuments Men (as they came to be called) to track down these missing treasures during the latter years of the war. This story concentrates on Northwest Europe only, where men (and at least one woman) from 13 nations, largely from professional arts-related backgrounds and past combat age, effectively saved much of European culture from a gang of murderous thieves. This intriguing story, told largely through letters written by the rescuers and now in various government archives, will appeal to many general and military history readers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316240055
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 10/22/2013
  • Edition description: Media Tie
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 6,877
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet 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 cowrote 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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Read an Excerpt

The Monuments Men

Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History


By Robert M. Edsel, Bret Witter

Center Street

Copyright © 2009 Robert M. Edsel Bret Witter
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-59995-149-2


CHAPTER 1

Out of Germany


Karlsruhe, Germany 1715–1938

The city of Karlsruhe, in southwestern Germany, was founded in 1715 by the Margrave Karl Wilhelm von Baden-Durlach. Local legend held that Karl Wilhelm walked into the woods one day, fell asleep, and dreamt of a palace surrounded by a city. Actually, he left his previous residence at Durlach after a fight with the local townspeople. Still, always the optimist, Karl Wilhelm had his new settlement laid out like a wheel, with his palace in the center and thirty-two roads leading out from it like spokes. As in the dream, a town soon grew around his palace.

Hoping the new city would grow quickly into a regional power, Karl Wilhelm invited anyone to come and settle where they pleased, regardless of race or creed. This was a rare luxury, especially for Jews, who were relegated to Jewish-only neighborhoods throughout most of Eastern Europe. By 1718, a Jewish congregation was established in Karlsruhe. In 1725, a Jewish merchant named Seligmann immigrated there from Ettlingen, the nearby town where his family had lived since 1600. Seligmann thrived in Karlsruhe, perhaps because it wasn't until 1752, when the town finally felt itself a legitimate regional power, that anti-Jewish laws became the fashion. Around 1800, when inhabitants of Germany became legally obligated to take a surname, Seligmann's descendants chose the last name Ettlinger, after their city of origin.

The main street in Karlsruhe is Kaiserstrasse, and on this road in 1850 the Ettlingers opened a women's clothing store, Gebrüder Ettlinger. Jews were forbidden by then to own farmland. The professions, like medicine, law, or government service, were accessible to them but also openly discriminatory, while the trade guilds, such as those for plumbing and carpentry, barred their admission. As a result, many Jewish families focused on retail. Gebrüder Ettlinger was only two blocks from the palace, and in the late 1890s the regular patronage of Karl Wilhelm's descendant, the Grand Duchess Hilda von Baden, wife of Friedrich II von Baden, made it one of the most fashionable stores in the region. By the early 1900s the store featured four floors of merchandise and forty employees. The duchess lost her position in 1918, after Germany's defeat in World War I, but even the loss of their patron didn't dent the fortunes of the Ettlinger family.

In 1925, Max Ettlinger married Suse Oppenheimer, whose father was a wholesale textile merchant in the nearby town of Bruchsal. His primary business was uniform cloth for government employees, like policemen and customs officials. The Jewish Oppenheimers, who traced their local roots to 1450, were well known for their integrity, kindness, and philanthropy. Suse's mother had served as, among others things, the president of the local Red Cross. So when Max and Suse's first son, Heinz Ludwig Chaim Ettlinger, called Harry, was born in 1926, the family was not only well-off financially, but an established and respected presence in the Karlsruhe area.

Children live in a closed world, and young Harry assumed life as he knew it had gone on that way forever. He didn't have any friends who weren't Jewish, but his parents didn't either, so that didn't seem unusual. He saw non-Jews at school and in the parks, and he liked them, but buried deep within those interactions was the knowledge that, for some reason, he was an outsider. He had no idea that the world was entering an economic depression, or that hard times bring recriminations and blame. Privately, Harry's parents worried not just about the economy, but about the rising tide of nationalism and anti-Semitism. Harry noticed only that perhaps the line between himself and the larger world of Karlsruhe was becoming easier to see and harder to cross.

Then in 1933, seven-year-old Harry was banned from the local sports association. In the summer of 1935, his aunt left Karlsruhe for Switzerland. When Harry started the fifth grade a few months later, he was one of only two Jewish boys in his class of forty-five. His father was a decorated veteran of World War I, wounded by shrapnel outside Metz, France, so Harry was granted a temporary exemption from the 1935 Nuremberg Laws that stripped Jews of German citizenship and, with it, most of their rights. Forced to sit in the back row, Harry's grades dropped noticeably. This wasn't the result of ostracism or intimidation—that did occur, but Harry was never beaten or physically bullied by his classmates. It was the prejudice of his teachers.

Two years later, in 1937, Harry switched to the Jewish school. Soon after, he and his two younger brothers received a surprise gift: bicycles. Gebrüder Ettlinger had gone bankrupt, felled by a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses, and his father was now working with Opa (Grandpa) Oppenheimer in his textile business. Harry was taught to ride a bicycle so he could get around Holland, where the family was hoping to move. His best friend's family was trying to emigrate to Palestine. Almost everyone Harry knew, in fact, was trying to get out of Germany. Then word came that the Ettlingers' application was denied. They weren't going to Holland. Shortly thereafter, Harry crashed his bicycle; his admission to the local hospital was also denied.

There were two synagogues in Karlsruhe, and the Ettlingers, who were not strictly observant Jews, attended the less orthodox. The Kronenstrasse Synagogue was a large, ornate hundred-year-old building. The worship center soared four floors into a series of decorated domes—four floors was the maximum allowable height, for no building in Karlsruhe could be higher than the tower of Karl Wilhelm's palace. The men, who wore pressed black suits and black top hats, sat on long benches in the bottom section. The women sat in the upper balconies. Behind them, the sun streamed in through large windows, bathing the hall in light.

On Friday nights and Saturday mornings, Harry could look out over the whole congregation from his perch in the choir loft. The people he recognized were leaving, forced overseas by poverty, discrimination, the threat of violence, and a government that encouraged emigration as the best "solution" for both Jews and the German state. Still, the synagogue was always full. As the world shrunk—economically, culturally, socially—the synagogue drew more and more of the fringes of the Jewish community into the city's last comfortable embrace. It wasn't unusual for five hundred people to fill the hall, chanting together and praying for peace.

In March 1938, the Nazis annexed Austria. The public adulation that followed cemented Hitler's control of power and reinforced his ideology of "Deutschland über alles"—"Germany above all." He was forming, he said, a new German empire that would last a thousand years. German empire? Germany above all? The Jews of Karlsruhe believed war was inevitable. Not just against them, but against the whole of Europe.

A month later, on April 28, 1938, Max and Suse Ettlinger rode the train fifty miles to the U.S. consulate in Stuttgart. They had been applying for years to Switzerland, Great Britain, France, and the United States for permission to emigrate, but all their applications had been denied. They weren't seeking papers now, only answers to a few questions, but the consulate was crammed with people and in complete disarray. The couple was led from room to room, unsure of where they were going or why. Questions were asked and forms filled out. A few days later, a letter arrived. Their application for emigration to the United States was being processed. April 28, it turned out, was the last day the United States was taking requests for emigration; the mysterious paperwork had been their application. The Ettlingers were getting out.

But first, Harry had to celebrate his bar mitzvah. The ceremony was scheduled for January 1939, with the family to leave thereafter. Harry spent the summer studying Hebrew and English while the family's possessions disappeared. Some were sent to friends and relatives, but most of their personal items were boxed for passage to America. Jews weren't allowed to take money out of the country—which made the 100 percent tax paid to the Nazi Party for shipping all but meaningless—but they were still allowed to keep a few possessions, a luxury that would be stripped from them by the end of the year.

In July, Harry's bar mitzvah ceremony was moved forward to October 1938. Emboldened by his success in Austria, Hitler proclaimed that if the Sudetenland, a small stretch of territory made part of Czechoslovakia after World War I, was not given to Germany, the country would go to war for it. The mood was somber. War seemed not only inevitable, but imminent. At the synagogue, the prayers for peace became more frequent, and more desperate. In August, the Ettlingers moved up the date of their son's bar mitzvah ceremony, and their passage out of Germany, another three weeks.

In September, twelve-year-old Harry and his two brothers took the train seventeen miles to Bruchsal to visit their grandparents for the last time. The textile business had failed, and his grandparents were moving to the nearby town of Baden-Baden. Oma (Grandma) Oppenheimer fixed the boys a simple lunch. Opa Oppenheimer showed them, one last time, a few select pieces from his collection of prints. He was a student of the world and a minor patron of the arts. His art collection contained almost two thousand prints, primarily ex libris bookplates and works by minor German Impressionists working in the late 1890s and early 1900s. One of the best was a print, made by a local artist, of the self-portrait by Rembrandt that hung in the Karlsruhe museum. The painting was a jewel of the museum's collection. Opa Oppenheimer had admired it often on his visits to the museum for lectures and meetings, but he hadn't seen the painting in five years. Harry had never seen it, despite living four blocks away from it his whole life. In 1933, the museum had barred entry to Jews.

Putting the prints away at last, Opa Oppenheimer turned to the globe. "You boys are going to become Americans," he told them sadly, "and your enemy is going to be"—he spun the globe and placed his finger not on Berlin, but on Tokyo—"the Japanese."

A week later, on September 24, 1938, Harry Ettlinger celebrated his bar mitzvah in Karlsruhe's magnificent Kronenstrasse Synagogue. The service lasted three hours, in the middle of which Harry rose to read from the Torah, singing the passages in ancient Hebrew as had been done for thousands of years. The synagogue was filled to capacity. This was a ceremony to honor his passage into adulthood, his hope for the future, but to so many the chance for a life in Karlsruhe seemed lost. The jobs were gone; the Jewish community was shunned and harassed; Hitler was daring the Western powers to oppose him. After the ceremony, the rabbi took Harry's parents aside and told them not to delay, to leave not tomorrow but that very afternoon, on the 1:00 p.m. train to Switzerland. His parents were stunned. The rabbi was advocating travel on Shabbat, the day of rest. It was unheard of.

The ten-block walk home seemed long. The celebratory meal of cold sandwiches was eaten quietly in an empty apartment. The only guests were Oma and Opa Oppenheimer, Harry's other grandmother Oma Jennie, and her sister Tante (Aunt) Rosa, both of whom had moved in with the family around the time Gebrüder Ettlinger went bankrupt. When Harry's mother told Opa Oppenheimer what the rabbi had advised, the veteran of the German army went to the window, looked onto Kaiserstrasse, and saw dozens of soldiers milling about in their uniforms.

"If the war would start today," the canny veteran said, "all these soldiers would be off the street and in their barracks. The war will not start today."

Harry's father, also a proud veteran of the German army, agreed. The family left not that afternoon, but the next morning on the first train to Switzerland. On October 9, 1938, they arrived in New York harbor. Exactly one month later, on November 9, the Nazis used the assassination of a diplomat to put into full force their crusade against German Jews. Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, saw the destruction of more than seven thousand Jewish businesses and two hundred synagogues. The Jewish men of Karlsruhe, including Opa Oppenheimer, were rounded up and put in the nearby Dachau internment camp. The magnificent hundred-year-old Kronenstrasse Synagogue, where only weeks before Heinz Ludwig Chaim Ettlinger had celebrated his bar mitzvah, was burned to the ground. Harry Ettlinger was the last boy ever to have his bar mitzvah ceremony in the old synagogue of Karlsruhe.

But this story isn't about the Kronenstrasse Synagogue, the internment camp at Dachau, or even the Holocaust against the Jews. It is about a different act of negation and aggression Hitler perpetrated on the people and nations of Europe: his war on their culture. For when Private Harry Ettlinger, U.S. Army, finally returned to Karlsruhe, it wasn't to search for his lost relatives or the remains of his community; it was to determine the fate of another aspect of his heritage stripped away by the Nazi regime: his grandfather's beloved art collection. In the process he would discover, buried six hundred feet underground, something he had always known about but never expected to see: the Rembrandt of Karlsruhe.

CHAPTER 2

Hitler's Dream


Florence, Italy May 1938

In early May 1938, a few days after Harry Ettlinger's parents accidentally signed their applications for emigration to America, Adolf Hitler made one of his first trips outside Germany and Austria. The trip was a state visit to Italy, to meet his Fascist ally Benito Mussolini.

Rome, so vast, so monumental, so redolent of empire with its massive, columned ruins, almost certainly humbled him. Its splendor—not its current splendor but the reflection of ancient Rome—made Berlin seem a mere provincial outpost. Rome was what he wanted his German capital to become. He had been moving toward conquest for years, planning his subjugation of Europe, but Rome sparked the idea of empire. Since 1936, he had been discussing with his personal architect, Albert Speer, a plan to rebuild Berlin on a massive scale. After Rome, he told Speer to build not just for today, but for the future. He wanted to create monuments that over the centuries would become elegant ruins so that a thousand years into the Reich, humankind would still be looking in awe at the symbols of his power.

Hitler found the smaller-scale Florence, the art capital of Italy, similarly inspiring. Here, in the intimate cluster of buildings that marked the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, was the cultural heart of Europe. Nazi flags fluttered; the citizens cheered; but the artwork moved him. He spent more than three hours in the Uffizi Gallery, staring in wonder at its famous works of art. His entourage tried to keep him moving. Behind him, Mussolini, who had never willingly stepped foot in an art museum in his life, muttered in exasperation, "Tutti questi quadri ..."—"All these paintings ..." But Adolf Hitler would not be hurried.

As a young man, he had dreamed of being an artist and an architect. That dream had been crushed when his application to the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna was rejected by a panel of so-called art experts he believed to be Jews. He had wandered in the wilderness for a decade, almost destitute and virtually living on the streets. But his true destiny had finally revealed itself. He was not destined to create, but to remake. To purge, and then rebuild. To make an empire out of Germany, the greatest the world had ever seen. The strongest; the most disciplined; the most racially pure. Berlin would be his Rome, but a true artist-emperor needed a Florence. And he knew where to build it.

Less than two months earlier, on Sunday, March 13, 1938, Adolf Hitler had placed a wreath on his parents' grave in his adopted hometown of Linz, Austria. The afternoon before, March 12, had seen the fulfillment of one of his great ambitions. He, who had once been rejected and ignored, had crossed from Germany, which he now ruled, into his native Austria, which he had just annexed into the Reich. At every town, the crowds cheered his convoy and mobbed his touring car. Mothers cried with joy at the sight of him; children showered him with flowers and adulation. In Linz, he was hailed as a conquering hero, a savior of his country and his race.
(Continues...)


Excerpted from The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel, Bret Witter. Copyright © 2009 Robert M. Edsel Bret Witter. Excerpted by permission of Center Street.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

I The Mission

1 Out of Germany 3

2 Hitler's Dream 10

3 The Call to Arms 16

4 A Dull and Empty World 25

5 Leptis Magna 32

6 The First Campaign 37

7 Monte Cassino 44

8 Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives 50

9 The Task 63

II Northern Europe

10 Winning Respect 70

11 A Meeting in the Field 83

12 Michelangelo's Madonna 97

13 The Cathedral and the Masterpiece 102

14 Van Eyck's Mystic Lamb 113

15 James Rorimer Visits the Louvre 120

16 Entering Germany 139

17 A Field Trip 146

18 Tapestry 155

19 Christmas Wishes 164

20 The Madonna of La Gleize 173

21 The Train 177

22 The Bulge 190

23 Champagne 193

III Germany

24 A German Jew in the U.S. Army 209

25 Coming Through the Battle 214

26 The New Monuments Man 220

27 George Stout with His Maps 230

28 Art on the Move 239

29 Two Turning Points 242

30 Hitler's Nero Decree 250

31 First Army Across the Rhine 253

32 Treasure Map 259

33 Frustration 270

34 Inside the Mountain 280

35 Lost 284

36 A Week to Remember 287

IV The Void

37 Salt 303

38 Horror 309

39 The Gauleiter 314

40 The Battered Mine 316

41 Last Birthday 322

42 Plans 327

43 The Noose 332

44 Discoveries 339

45 The Noose Tightens 344

46 The Race 348

47 Final Days 353

48 The Translator 359

49 The Sound of Music 362

50 End of the Road 367

V The Aftermath

51 Understanding Altaussee 373

52 Evacuation 382

53 The Journey Home 391

54 Heroes of Civilization 400

Cast of Characters 427

Notes 431

Bibliography 447

Acknowledgments 455

What Is Your Connection to the Story? 459

Index 461

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 163 )
Rating Distribution

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(62)

4 Star

(56)

3 Star

(25)

2 Star

(12)

1 Star

(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 163 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    An Amazing Journey of Historical Proportions

    This is probably one of the best kept secrets of WW II, until now. The brave men and women, many directly from the world of the arts, who put their lives on the line to save the art of the world from the Nazi's.

    Written from interviews of surving members, journals and a great deal of deep and thorough reasearch, this book puts you in the Jeep right with the solidiers searching for the great artworks of the world pilfered by the Nazis.

    Extermely well-written and extremely well-paced for a history book, it's a journey that will educate the reader as well as entertain them as they route on the good guys as the race against time, military ignorance and of course, WWII, to make their mission a successful one. It is a book that is hard to put down. Quite impressive in my mind for a history book.

    If you are a fan of history, particularly WWII, this is a must read. It's a part of the story that never got out until way after the war. And to honor those who gave so much, reading this book is the least we can do for these patriots.

    70 out of 71 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 5, 2009

    Forgotten saviors of the art world

    It's amazing that the US armed forces with the prompting of US artists, curators, architects and restorers saved an unimaginable # of Europe's great paintings, architecture, books, municipal documents etc with an amazingly small number of people.

    The character development reads like a novel. Edsel's writing creates an environment where we warm up to even the most stoic of character's such as Rose Valland, female Jeu De Paume spy.

    Many anecdotes to keep the book interesting.

    If you didn't already have a deep loathing for Nazi commanders for their inhumanity to Jews and their own populace, you will after you read about the greed Goring, Hitler and others demonstrated in their art grab in France, Belgium, Germany etc.

    And to think, these men were never recognized by Congress in 2007 until only a handful were still living. To this day most Americans have no idea of Eisenhower's art philosophy and edict to save monuments and the dedicated, knowledgable men who carried out these tedious, dangerous feats. Kudos!

    31 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 7, 2009

    A WWII story with broad appeal

    This is a great book. I wondered if it would capture my attention because I am not normally an avid reader of WWII books. However, there is a lot more to this story that will appeal to a broad audience, especially women. The author included excerpts of letters that the Monuments Men wrote their wives and families...they are beautiful and sometimes heart wrenching. This story provides an entirely new way to look at WWII as it explores the Nazis' obsession with and theft of art from across Europe, and almost more interestingly, the Monuments Men's efforts to locate it. As the title suggests, the book focuses on the Monuments Men themselves, and is a "people" story, not a broad exploration of the entire subject of Nazi looting and art repatriation.

    22 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 18, 2010

    A Debt We Owe, Possibly Forever

    There is a number of books on this subject, but I haven't read them. I read "Monuments Men" because it was offered for Nook. Having visited many museums, both in the US and abroad, I was emotionally overwhelmed at the heroics that made it possible for me to enjoy "in the flesh" many of the most important artworks in the world. (Some of these works remain unreturned to this day to their owners, but that is beyond the chronological scope of this book.) More important than my own emotion, however, is that the confiscation of the artworks and manuscripts stolen by Hitler's goons made it possible for these works to be returned to their original owners (or heirs, in many cases) and to the countries whose cultural well-being was and is wrapped up in these icons.
    I could hardly put this book down but still, nearly gave it 4 stars because the writing isn't superior, but I noticed that I gave it 5 stars in almost all other categories. (Don't get me wrong, the writing isn't bad, and it is based on extensive research which probably made for an enormous amount of juggling to fit the facts chronologically.) At any rate, you'll be glad you read it, especially if you value transcendent art, not to mention a momentous amount of justice.
    By the way, while reading this, I noticed similarities to "The Train," one of my favorite movies as a youth. Turns out, the movie was based on many of the true facts but, of course, Hollywoodized. The true story in "Monuments Men" was as thrilling as "The Train." (See the movie too, knowing it's not quite factual.)

    16 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Fascinating Read

    I had heard occasional references to Nazi looting of art, but the true extent of their crimes was not a subject I had previously explored. This account was a well-written, well-documented exploration of the subject. I went into the book expecting a dry story and wound up finding a book that held my attention from beginning to end. Mr. Edsel has done an admirable job of taking extensive research and using it to create a suspense-filled story of some of the unsung heroes of World War II. Bravo!! I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in art history, World War II, mystery and suspense, or a well-told story.

    14 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2014

    Fascinating!   Having watched trailers for several weeks, I knew

    Fascinating!   Having watched trailers for several weeks, I knew I wanted to see the movie.  But I decided to first read the book, and I am so glad I did.  Mr. Edsel is a wonderful writer and the men (and one woman!) leap from the pages as they rush to save the treasures of Europe.  Though reading history can be somewhat challenging at times, this is not at all tedious.  It is a fascinating mix of art, WWII and reads much like a mystery novel where you are frantically following your characters and the intrigue that surrounds them.  Though the movie has not received great reviews, the book should be a must read for anyone interested in any of the themes presented.  I would also mention that I went on-line at the end of each chapter to search for photos of the art and architecture mentioned which made the search that more significant as I continued to read.  I loved this book!

    13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 20, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    This is a fascinating story of a little-known part of World War II. It is absolutely amazing how much of our art culture which was stolen by the Nazis was saved and returned to the original owners. An amazing testimony to the valiant effort of a special group of army men and women

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 7, 2014

    History Buffs, take notice!

    Loved the book! It was all the better due to a recent trip I made to Normandy. So many of the places mentioned were known by me. If you like history and all things WWII, you will love this book!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2014

    Amazing book! It was a little hard for me to get into at first,

    Amazing book! It was a little hard for me to get into at first, but as soon as I did, I was hooked! Just make sure to read over the 'cast' of characters before you start reading, they will be easier to keep track of that way. As someone who loves art and history I found this book to be fascinating. There are so many interesting stories and facts that are not necessarily very well known. These men were truly real life heroes, and I soon became invested in all of them. Read this book!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 29, 2013

    The Greatest Unknown Story  World War II  The story starts out s

    The Greatest Unknown Story  World War II 
    The story starts out slowly as a team of soldiers with backgrounds from the art world is assembled.  But the action picks up as the U.S. Army advances into Germany. These Monuments Men race to retrieve stolen art works.  The Germans have stashed  away all types of items from Western Europe. The Monuments Men helped save some of the great masterpieces of the world. They were not a separate unit, hence they have been forgotten by history. 

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2013

    Recommended Reading For Art Lovers

    This book was an excellent story of "Art" during World War Two and the
    ins and outs of the Nazi's plans to hoard masterpieces. To have a whole
    book devoted to the subject answered many questions about what really
    happened and the bravery that men showed when needed. Monuments Men
    was an excellent read!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 23, 2011

    Highly recommended - for just the bare acts alone!

    The writing in this book is a bit prosaic. However, the story (which is true) is quite extraordinary. For all of the WW II knowledge I have had, and for all of the documentaries and specials on the war that I have seen, I never knew how so much of the priceless art and documents from Europe managed to make it through relatively unscathed. Having been to Europe, I had wondered, but no one could tell me. For that reason, this book was incredibly interesting. Additionally, it told of information about the war outside of the work of those striving to preserve the ancient and important artifacts that I had never known. This book also brings home the excellent point that it wasn't just lives that the Nazi's took. It was a way of life - and that was why what these men and women did was so important.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Treasure worth the hunt!

    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.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2010

    Who knew?

    My thanks to the authors of this book. I guess everyone is aware on some level of the pilfering of art and art objects during WWII but many (including myself) are not aware of the extreme measures that were taken to hide and hoard these. No thought or care was given to preservation and indeed thousands of paintings were simply burned! As a lover of the arts it grieves me that this happened and happened again in Iraq. Nevertheless. I am glad to have the opportunity to learn about the Monuments Men. Bravo!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2010

    Art, History, Thieves and Unsung Heroes

    If you love History and great works of art then this book is for you. The authors through exhaustive research bring to light the true story of one woman and several men who saved Europe's art from Nazi plunder.

    The story begins prior to World War II and recounts the efforts of how an unlikely group of art lovers from two continents became unsung heroes; with no authority and virtually no equipment they saved our European heritage.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2014

    Highly Recommended - If you are a History Buff & an Art Lover

    Only 60 pages into this book, and am thoroughly bored. This is not the movie. This is a history book, written with minute detail of the lives and events of the people who saved untold art and treasures during WWII. Do not buy this book if you are looking for action packed adventure. It hasn't developed as of yet. I will continue reading it only because I am interested in the history side of it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2014

    highly recommend!

    true story of a mostly forgotten part of world war II.love the story, love the documentation and love the character backgrounds. these men and women are true heroes.thanks for telling their stories.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2013

    Great book

    Great read. The greed of the nazis and the scole of the looting is beyond anything you can imagine.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2013

    Very Interesting Read

    I enjoyed this book - it took a snap shot in time. These men were heroes and recognition for the world treasures they saved is long overdue. I could not put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2013

    Highly recommended for WW2 history fans

    Tremendous book documenting the efforts of the the Monuments Men's saving of great works after Hitler looted Europe. Amazing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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