Summer Sale! Save 20% today and get access to all our member benefits.

BookBrowse Reviews Saving Italy by Robert M. Edsel

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Saving Italy

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

by Robert M. Edsel

Saving Italy by Robert M. Edsel X
Saving Italy by Robert M. Edsel
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2013, 480 pages

    Paperback:
    Feb 2014, 496 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Heather A Phillips
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


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 a struggle epitomized by the fate of da Vinci's The Last Supper. It wasn't a code or a mystery, but a task of herculean and largely unsung effort: How to protect Italy's cultural treasures – some of the greatest art that Western Civilization has ever known – from both the Nazis and the ravages of war.

The Last Supper, already deteriorating due to the ravages of time, was further damaged in 1943 when an Allied bomb directly hit the building that housed it. The only thing that preserved this most famous mural was the protective sandbagging and scaffolding that prevented the wall from crumbling and the mural from bomb debris damage. But for the foresight to protect and the impetus to repair and restore the famous painting, it well might have been lost.

Word that The Last Supper had been saved from near distruction reached American ears and, just days after, an article was run in the New York Times. It announced the creation of what became popularly known as the Roberts Commission, a presidentially-appointed commission, headed by Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts. It brought together some of America's foremost cultural and political leaders and charged them with the protection and salvage of art and historical monuments in the war zone. This led to the creation of the Monuments Men – military officers tasked with carrying out the charge of the Roberts Commission. The first of these Monuments Men was embedded with the troops invading Sicily, and they continued their mission through the remainder of World War II. Saving Italy brings to life both the stories of the Italian art rescued, protected and restored by the Monuments Men, and the fascinating histories of the men themselves.

In addition to recounting the tales of the Monuments Men in Italy, author Robert M. Edsel reports on a fascinating story of intrigue. As the order came down from the highest levels of the Nazi government to transport famous works of art from Italy into Germany, an otherwise obscure Nazi general named Karl Wolff seized control of the art, using it as a bargaining chip to negotiate a secret surrender. The negotiations, code-named "Operation Sunrise" offer a little explored perspective on the end of the war in Italy.

The first sections of Saving Italy set the stage and characters for the reader. Because of this, they are detail-heavy and do not move as quickly as the rest of the book. However this is merely a temporary status. Once the scene is set, what could have been a dull, dry exercise in an obscure area of history is rendered in vivid strokes by Edsel's prose. He is adept in using the drama of real life to lend interest to his topic.

Clearly passionate about his subject, Edsel adorns each section of the book with the fruits of his (obviously copious) labors. Written for general readers, not academics, Saving Italy serves as an unexpectedly thrilling coda to the more usual World War II fare. Fans of art history will alternately cringe and cheer as some of the world's most well known works of art swing into and out of peril.

Reviewed by Heather A Phillips

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in June 2013, and has been updated for the February 2014 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Saving Italy, try these:

We have 9 read-alikes for Saving Italy, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Night of Baba Yaga
    The Night of Baba Yaga
    by Akira Otani, Sam Bett
    When Yoriko Shindo gets into a brawl on a busy street in 1970s Tokyo, she has no idea what the ...
  • Book Jacket: The Anthropologists
    The Anthropologists
    by Aysegül Savas
    A documentary filmmaker, Asya is interested in the "unremarkable grace" of daily life, "the slow and...
  • Book Jacket: Mood Swings
    Mood Swings
    by Frankie Barnet
    This book begins with a bombastic premise. Seemingly fed up with the heating planet, the world's ...
  • Book Jacket: The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye
    The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye
    by Briony Cameron
    Our titular heroine's story begins in Yáquimo, Santo Domingo. Jacquotte Delahaye is a young ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
The 1619 Project
by Nikole Hannah-Jones
An impactful expansion of groundbreaking journalism, The 1619 Project offers a revealing vision of America's past and present.
Who Said...

Give me the luxuries of life and I will willingly do without the necessities.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L T C O of the B

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.