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Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation's Treasures from the Nazisby Robert M. Edsel
Synopses & Reviews
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, 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.
"It is amazing that so much of Italy's timeless art survived the sordidness of World War Two. Robert Edsel has written a poignant, fascinating story, bringing to life the heroic soldier-scholars who saved Italy's treasures." Evan Thomas, Bestselling author of Ike's Bluff and Sea of Thunder
"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." Tom Brokaw
"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." Susan Eisenhower
"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." Carlo D'Este, bestselling author of Patton: A Genius For War
"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." Timothy Potts, Director, the J. Paul Getty Museum
"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." Gordon H. "Nick" Mueller, President/CEO, The National WWII Museum
"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." Hugh Ambrose, bestselling author of The Pacific
"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." Kirkus Reviews
“This valuable book rescues an unlikely troop of American heroes from obscurity.” James D. Hornfischer, best-selling author of Neptune’s Inferno
The best-selling author of The Monuments Men tells a blockbuster story of the hunt for the world’s greatest masterpieces.
On the eve of the 1943 invasion of Italy, just weeks before Allied bombs nearly destroyed Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper in Milan, General Dwight Eisenhower empowered a new kind of soldier to protect mankind’s greatest cultural treasures. In May 1944, two unlikely American heroes — an artist and a scholar — embarked from Naples on the treasure hunt of a lifetime, tracking billions of dollars of stolen art, including works by Donatello, Titian, Caravaggio, and Botticelli. As the Germans blew up the historic bridges of Florence and Allied air raids threatened Michelangelo’s David, a heretofore-unknown SS general held the art hostage while negotiating a secret Nazi surrender with American spies. A gripping narrative that will appeal to fans of history, art, travel, and adventure, Saving Italy takes us from the battlefields of Monte Cassino to the Vatican and behind closed doors with the great Allied and Axis leaders: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Churchill; Hitler, Goring, and Himmler.
About the Author
Robert M. Edsel is the founder and president of the Monuments Men Foundation, a recipient of the National Humanities Medal, and a trustee at the National WWII Museum. He lives in Dallas, Texas.
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