mercredi 25 décembre 2013

Bestselling Monuments Men Book Review

By Marcia Marks

The Monuments Men books is a bestseller that takes the reader on a high-paced treasure hunt through war torn Europe in the closing days of World War II. It is the story of the men and women who made up the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives unit, a highly secretive and little known group formed under the orders of President Roosevelt and General Eisenhower. Their orders were to seek out and protect our cultural patrimony from the clutches of Hitler, theft and destruction.

Between the declaration of D-Day and VE Day, the unit was operational and set to work seeking out precious art works that were being pilfered by the Nazis. Hitler was taking priceless works of art and what he was not taking for his collections, he was destroying. The powers that be had noted what was happening and were putting their foot down to save the pieces of art and monuments for mankind.

Almost everyone knows of the human rights atrocities of the Nazis, but this parallel destruction of cultural patrimony is an often neglected area. This story brings to life on the page the brave efforts of archivists, curators and educators, among others, who formed a part of the unit. It is thanks to their efforts that a lot of priceless art or monuments were saved.

This incredible book is written by Robert M Edsel and co-written with Brett Witter. Robert Edsel became fascinated by this chapter in European war time history after quitting his job in mining and oil in the USA and moving to Florence, Italy. The catalyst for the book came from visiting the many museums over Italy and wondering what had happened to them during the World Wars.

Edsel has also written and published Rescuing Da Vinci, which directly draws upon the experience he had in Italy. He has also been involved with documentary film making about this time in history and the protection of culture when under attack in time of war. Most recently, the book has been made into a movie produced and screen-written by George Clooney.

The unit was created and active for the last 11 months of the war. During that time they went undercover all over Europe on a giant treasure hunt with the clock and the odds against them. The picked up on clues, followed leads and successfully saved a lot of artwork and other cultural artifacts from being lost.

The movie is based on the book and closely follows the excitement of the original tale. It stars an incredible cast that includes Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett. It has been distributed by Columbia Pictures with 20th Century Fox and will be released in 2014.

If you are looking for a thrilling tale that is intertwined with an often unexplored aspect of history, then the Monuments Men book is for you. History lovers, adventure buffs and lovers of a good, edge of your seat, story will be more than satisfied with this offering. Look out for it now.

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