MLA Platinum Award Press Release

BookBrowse Reviews Saving Italy by Robert M. Edsel

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  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 $12 for a year or $39 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Tropic of Violence
    by Nathacha Appanah
    Marie is a nurse working in Mayotte, a cluster of French territory islands in the Indian Ocean. When...
  • Book Jacket: Death in Mud Lick
    Death in Mud Lick
    by Eric Eyre
    When Eric Eyre, investigative and statehouse reporter for the Charleston Gazette-Daily, began ...
  • Book Jacket
    Orange World and Other Stories
    by Karen Russell
    Karen Russell has a tremendous gift for crafting uncanny, through-the-looking glass worlds that are ...
  • Book Jacket: The Book of Longings
    The Book of Longings
    by Sue Monk Kidd
    The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd follows the life of Ana, a woman born in the Galilean city of ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Prisoner's Wife
    by Maggie Brookes

    Inspired by the true story of a courageous young woman who enters a Nazi POW camp to be with the man she loves.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Paris Hours
by Alex George

One day in the City of Light. One night in search of lost time.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win The House on Fripp Island

The House on Fripp Island
by Rebecca Kauffman

A taut, page-turning novel of secrets and strife.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

B I T T Water

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

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.