The Monuments Men
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 23 Jul 2014
Full Title: The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History
Among the wealth Germany plundered from the conquered nations were those of cultural and artistic importance, from works of master painters to magnificent stained glass windows from centuries past. Personnel of the small Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program, nicknamed "Monuments Men", were placed in charge of locating and securing these pieces. Robert Edsel's The Monuments Men told the stories their efforts in France, the Low Countries, and Germany. From saving historic cathedrals in small French villages in 1944 to exploring potentially booby trapped salt mines used as storage for stolen art, the author successfully weaved together a chapter of WW2 history that was often overlooked. I had already known that Dwight Eisenhower was chosen to be the supreme commander for being political savvy, that Hermann GÃ¶ring pursued works of art to decorate his Carinhall estate, and that Albert Speer made an attempt to counter Adolf Hitler's scorched earth decree. Nevertheless, as these characters were weaved into The Monuments Men, I found that the author successfully presented each of their stories from a fresh angle, so much so that I felt I was learning something new. In terms of the writing of the book, it moved a bit slowly in the early pages, but the pace picked up significantly in the latter half, which I was fairly happy about.
I had reviewed this title in its audio book format. Jeremy Davidson did a fine job with the reading, and I rather enjoyed his theatrical display, in the form of voice acting, with characters of various nationalities.
The Monuments Men featured a lot of the same men I would find in books about the battles, about the leaders, and about international politics, but it centered around a wholly different topic, thus giving me a very refreshing perspective on some of the events that I had previously known. I enjoyed this book and would give my recommendation.
Please also see WW2DB contributor David Stubblebine's review of The Monuments Men.
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Captain Henry P. Jim Crowe, Guadalcanal, 13 Jan 1943