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

monuments menA friend from Wichita Falls first recommended this book to me, her grandfather being one of the team assigned to recover and protect the great art treasures of the Western world. While the team become popularized in the movie of the same name starring George Clooney and Matt Damon, most Americans did not realize the extent to which Adolph Hitler and his cronies had looted art of all kinds from the conquered countries, especially from the Jews.
 
Often working with the troops who continued to fight the German Army as they retreated to their homeland, these brave men were often onsite before areas had been cleared of snipers and land mines. They lacked equipment, often resorting to hitchhiking and abandoned cars to move from one war arena to the next, as well as command authority to accomplish their purpose; they persevered through dedication, effort, and a love of the objects they raced to save. The group included curators, scholars, educators, architects, and archivists, many too old to serve in the regular army, but exposed to similar danger never-the-less.
 
Some readers complain about the slow pedantic style of the author, but I found the story so engrossing that I was quickly caught up in the action, particularly when paintings or sculptures which I had only seen in school books were involved. This is not an easy read, but worth the effort if you are either an art or a World War II buff.
 
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