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

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

by Robert M. Edsel, Bret Witter (With)
3.9 181


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The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781599951508
Publisher: Center Street
Publication date: 09/17/2010
Pages: 473
Sales rank: 155,642
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.50(d)

About 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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Monuments Men 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 181 reviews.
Robdesign More than 1 year ago
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.
peakbagger06 More than 1 year ago
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!
lilyann530 More than 1 year ago
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.
SuperMomof4 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
nookpaper More than 1 year ago
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.)
reader02VA More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
bzMN More than 1 year ago
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!
Owlshark More than 1 year ago
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. 
JBS75 More than 1 year ago
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!
Claire_Garvens More than 1 year ago
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.
keenens More than 1 year ago
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.
Sugar-Lady More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
slosrfr More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Story is great, but the writing style is sometimes choppy, disjointed at times, and on occasion feels like a school text book.
arf More than 1 year ago
true story of a mostly forgotten part of world war the story, love the documentation and love the character backgrounds. these men and women are true heroes.thanks for telling their stories.
Beth_Mac More than 1 year ago
Tremendous book documenting the efforts of the the Monuments Men's saving of great works after Hitler looted Europe. Amazing.
jimbok44 More than 1 year ago
Extremely impressive diligence and action of US Forces to track and save great art works stolen by the Nazis.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a crap-fest. I wonder if the movie sucks as bad asthe book?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stevec50 More than 1 year ago
During the Second World War the curators of art museums, critics and scholars feared what would happen to the works of art and architectural masterpieces of Europe that might be destroyed or taken by the Nazis as conquest. They were able to convince the Allied military command to create a group of men & women whose job was assist in the safety of these items and places. Initially their job was to advice the military on the historic sites that were to be preserved, if possible, later their work expanded into trying to rescue those works that had already been taken. These were the Monument Men. Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter, use thorough research and interviews with the surviving members of the group to bring a better understanding of what these individuals did, sometimes at the cost of their lives, to stop the theft and destruction by the German Reich of the cultural history of Europe and its people. We see both acts of bravery and of pettiness by both the Allies and those who sort to gather the art for themselves or those higher up. To this day millions of dollars of artwork and property remain hidden, their whereabouts unknown. I've never seen the film that was based on this work, so can't compare the two, but I have to wonder what liberties were taken and which of the many stories or bravery were left out. Great book for military history or art lovers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First of all, let me begin by stating I saw the film before I downloaded the book to my Nook. Which would I suggest you do first? I had trouble reading the first one hundred or so pages of the book because I couldn't figure out who was who from the movie. Anyway, I think reading the book first may well be the best way to go as it delves into family relationships where the film does not. Both the book and film are great. You will quickly figure out which characters in the book translate to those in the film. There are changes in the film, of course, literary license I suppose, but you'll follow along. The film moves right along and you won't be bored waiting for the next bit of drama or action to take place. There is both sadness and humor, as you might expect, but humor is what you'd expect, not just made up to fill the narrative. I highly recommend this book and hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It is a powerful statement on what we would be without our visual and written history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This reads as a livinv history novel wonderful to read