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

by Robert M. Edsel


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

From the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Monuments Men
"An astonishing account of a little-known American effort to save Italy's…art during World War II."—Tom Brokaw
When 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 Renaissance, the treasures of the Vatican, and the antiquities of the Roman Empire.
On the eve of the Allied invasion, General Dwight Eisenhower empowered a new kind of soldier to protect these historic riches. In May 1944 two unlikely American heroes—artist Deane Keller and scholar Fred Hartt—embarked from Naples on the treasure hunt of a lifetime, tracking billions of dollars of missing art, including works by Michelangelo, Donatello, Titian, Caravaggio, and Botticelli. With the German army retreating up the Italian peninsula, orders came from the highest levels of the Nazi government to transport truckloads of art north across the border into the Reich. Standing in the way was General Karl Wolff, a top-level Nazi officer. As German forces blew up the magnificent bridges of Florence, General Wolff commandeered the great collections of the Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace, later risking his life to negotiate a secret Nazi surrender with American spymaster Allen Dulles.Brilliantly researched and vividly written, the New York Times bestselling Saving Italy brings readers from Milan and the near destruction of The Last Supper to the inner sanctum of the Vatican and behind closed doors with the preeminent Allied and Axis leaders: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Churchill; Hitler, Göring, and Himmler.An unforgettable story of epic thievery and political intrigue, Saving Italy is a testament to heroism on behalf of art, culture, and history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393348804
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 02/03/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 167,111
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About 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.

Table of Contents

List of maps xi

Author's Note xiii

A Note on the Text xvii

Main Characters xix

Prelude 1

Section I Inception

1 Changing of the Guard 9

2 A New Type of Soldier 23

3 "Bombs and Words" 31

4 The Experiment Begins 41

5 Growing Pains 51

6 A New Order 59

7 A Troubled Bunch 69

8 Gifts 81

Section II Struggle

9 The First Test 93

10 Close Call 103

11 Refuge 113

12 Life on the Road 123

13 Treasure Hunt 135

14 Surprises 141

15 Guardian Angels 153

16 "Little Saints, Help Us" 165

17 "The Most Beautiful Cemetery in the World" 177

18 Whereabouts Unknown 187

19 Resurrection 201

20 Christmas Wishes 207

Section III Victory

21 Trouble in the Ranks 219

22 Switching Sides 229

23 Operation Sunrise 241

24 Complications 255

25 Surrender 269

26 The Race 281

27 The Big Move 295

Section IV Aftermath

28 Perspective 309

29 The Heroes and Their Legacy 321

Acknowledgments 341

Have You Seen These Works of Art? 347

Monuments Men and Women Serving in the Mediterranean Theater 351

Notes 353

Bibliography 425

Index 441

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.

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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