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

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 boo…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: 9781599952659
  • Publisher: Center Street
  • Publication date: 9/3/2009
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 469
  • Sales rank: 542
  • File size: 8 MB

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 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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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
( 139 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(54)

4 Star

(51)

3 Star

(20)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 139 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.

    65 out of 66 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!

    26 out of 28 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.

    18 out of 20 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.)

    14 out of 18 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!

    12 out of 12 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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  • 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 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!

    4 out of 4 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 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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  • Posted December 19, 2009

    Intriguing reading of relatively unknown actions.

    Extremely impressive diligence and action of US Forces to track and save great art works stolen by the Nazis.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2014

    I could not stop reading this book. You only read about the mi

    I could not stop reading this book. You only read about the military in battles or generals etc but not about the people who tried to save the art work of Europe.. Well written and a must read for people who are interested in history and art. The next time I go to Europe and visit the museums I will think about those brave men who rescued the art so that we can enjoy it today.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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