Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation's Treasures from the Nazis

Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation's Treasures from the Nazis

4.4 13
by Robert M. Edsel
     
 

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The best-selling author of The Monuments Men tells a blockbuster story of the hunt for the world’s greatest masterpieces.

Overview

The best-selling author of The Monuments Men tells a blockbuster story of the hunt for the world’s greatest masterpieces.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post - Andrew Nagorski
At the heart of Edsel's lively narrative are the two most important art specialists dispatched to Italy in 1943: Deane Keller, 42 that year, a Yale art professor with an in-depth knowledge of Italy, and Fred Hartt, 29, a rising star of the Yale University Art Gallery. Because Keller was self-effacing while Hartt was expansive and attracted publicity, the two were occasionally at odds. But they shared the same passionate commitment to their mission…how they largely succeeded makes for a riveting read.
Publishers Weekly
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)
Carlo D'Este
“An amazing story, superbly told. The narrative and research are exceptionally well done. Edsel has done a great service not only to tell the story of the Monuments Men and the work they did in Italy but also to remind mankind what the Germans did. I believe that Saving Italy is a major contribution to the history of World War II.”
Gordon H. "Nick" Mueller
“Robert Edsel weaves a suspenseful tale worthy of an Indiana Jones plot. He pulls you into a dangerous web of intrigue in which the Vatican, top German SS generals, American OSS operatives and Italian officials are entwined in top-secret negotiations to end the war. A must read for any WWII history enthusiast.”
Hugh Eakin - The Wall Street Journal
“Revealing…. That the Monuments Men were able to do as much as they did, amid a war with more urgent priorities is remarkable….”
Hugh Ambrose
“Eventually the deranged plots of the Nazis called forth a new breed of adversary, their college degrees in art and antiquities hardly imposing yet suddenly critical, their extraordinary confrontation with evil quickly proving capable, in this inspired account, of recasting the war in Italy into a barn-burner of a history.”
Tom Brokaw
“Saving Italy is an astonishing account of a little known American effort to save Italy’s vast store of priceless monuments and art during World War II. While American warriors were fighting the length of the country, other Americans were courageously working alongside to preserve the irreplaceable best of Italy’s culture. Read it and be proud of those who were on their own front lines of a cruel war.”
Susan Eisenhower
“Robert Edsel has written a captivating, and at times hair-raising, book on the audacious Allied effort during World War II to save the priceless art treasurers in Italy. It is impossible to imagine what Western civilization would be today without these cultural masterpieces. Edsel has written a gripping, heroic story of the Monuments Men who saved them from certain destruction.”
James D. Hornfischer
“As Robert Edsel shows us in this valuable book, the artistic patrimony of the western world was a hostage to Hitler’s legions in 1945. Saving Italy rescues an unlikely troop of American heroes from obscurity, chronicling the exploits of a band of art professors working for the U.S. military as they saved Tuscany’s masterworks, museums and cathedrals from oblivion as Nazi Germany’s southern flank crumbled.”
Alsadair Palmer - The Mail on Sunday
“Edsel is very good on how the officers charged with identifying what had happened to Italy’s art went about their work. He gives a vivid flavor of what life must have been like as they searched among the ruins.”
Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
Edsel (The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, 2009, etc.) continues his work chronicling the small band of artists and art historians who tracked down and saved Europe's artistic heritage, this time focusing on Italy. During World War II, Hitler and Göring led the greatest looting operation of the 20th century. Nazi Germany justified its practice of absorbing art treasures of Western Europe and Russia as spoils of war--but Italy was an ally. After the destruction of Naples by the fleeing Germans, the leader of the Kunstschutz, the "art protection" unit, was ordered to Italy to guard her works of art. Instead, art was removed from carefully arranged hiding places in the countryside and taken to the north for "protection." The author focuses on the work of art professor Dean Keller and art historian Fred Hartt of the American Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives section. These two men, who had overwhelming passion for Italy and her enormous artistic heritage, chased into cities before the fires of war had barely cooled, designating which areas were to be protected until secured. It was only through Keller's work with a team of army engineers, fresco specialists and Italian military that we are able today to see the frescoes of Pisa's Camposanto, blown off the walls by Allied bombs. Both men worked their way up the peninsula from Sicily, but their concentration was in Tuscany. Curiously enough, they were aided by Gen. Karl Wolff, the SS leader in Italy--whether it was his love of art or self-protection as the end of the war loomed is a matter for debate. Edsel's knowledge and appreciation of art amplifies this celebration of the unheralded group of men who ensured the safety of Italy's greatest treasures.
Matthew Price - Newsday
“A teeming work…by an author passionate about his subject.”
Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller
“A suspenseful tale worthy of an Indiana Jones plot. He pulls you into a dangerous web of intrigue in which the Vatican, top German SS generals, American OSS operatives and Italian officials are entwined in top-secret negotiations to end the war. A must read for any WWII history enthusiast.”
Carlo D’Este
“An amazing story, superbly told.”
Timothy Potts
“Edsel’s recovery of the history of the Monuments Men makes for a remarkable and fascinating story. As more recent conflicts have shown, the havoc that war can wreak upon our artistic heritage has unfortunately not diminished and there are important lessons in this book for policy makers and all who care about the preservation of the world’s artistic legacy for future generations.”
Andrew Nagorski - Washington Post
“Dramatic…lively narrative.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Riveting narrative history.”
Hugh Eakin - Wall Street Journal
“Revealing…That the Monuments Men were able to do as much as they did, amid a war with more urgent priorities is remarkable.”
Noah Charney - Daily Beast
“An absorbing, thoroughly researched gallop of a history book.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393082418
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
05/06/2013
Pages:
480
Sales rank:
516,270
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.70(d)

What People are saying about this

Susan Eisenhower
Robert Edsel has written a captivating, and at times hair-raising, book on the audacious Allied effort during World War II to save the priceless art treasurers in Italy. It is impossible to imagine what Western civilization would be today without these cultural masterpieces. Edsel has written a gripping, heroic story of the Monuments Men who saved them from certain destruction.
Tom Brokaw
Saving Italy is an astonishing account of a little known American effort to save Italy’s vast store of priceless monuments and art during World War II. While American warriors were fighting the length of the country, other Americans were courageously working alongside to preserve the irreplaceable best of Italy’s culture. Read it and be proud of those who were on their own front lines of a cruel war.

Meet the Author

Robert M. Edsel is the best-selling author of 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 Dallas, Texas.

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Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation's Treasures from the Nazis 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn’t put it down! Saving Italy is a page turner with a compelling narrative that often keeps you on the edge-of-your-seat with suspense. The drawings that Monuments Man Deane Keller sent home to his young son offer a revealing insight into the man’s mixed emotions about his eagerness to help save the treasures of a country he loved in the midst of war, coupled with the loneliness and isolation he felt being separated from the family he adored. The passion and impulsiveness of Monuments Man Fred Hartt help the thrilling adventure of Saving Italy come alive. Edsel does a great job bringing out the very human side of his complex characters, including a little known Nazi General, Karl Wolff. The book is well-researched with many author interviews noted, but is presented in a way that reads more like an espionage novel. I highly recommend Saving Italy not just to those who love art or WWII History, but to anyone looking for an inspiring story about the human spirit and the sacrifices people make to follow their passion, risking their lives for a cause greater than themselves. Five stars doesn't seem like enough!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'd like to thank everyone who had anything to do with putting these books in publication! I lived in both Germany and Italy in the late 70's and early 80's. I visited and live in quite a few of the places mentioned in these books. My greatest wonder was the question I asked at many of the museums was "how did all these treasures survive the war'? If you've ever stood in front of the statue of Moses; you'd know they didn't carry it out of that church. This book answered my questions. It's wonderful!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Compelling behind the scenes effects of war.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
More exclusive to Italy and just as interesting as monuments men
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow. So compelling and it pretty much felt like I was sucked into the story and was feeling what the charchters felt. I absolututly thought this I compleatly enjoyed this book. I felt like I should jump into the book. Loved this book and will recomend it to people that like action books. Still such a great book. I'll never stop say ing that because it is totaly great.(I know I'm rambling) Still it was worth the money.
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I suggest everyone look on the warriors reviews.also,raina,look at the hunger games reviews.p.s. there is a morman there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
not bad