by Robert M Edsel

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Review

The Monuments Men tells the story of the brave men and women determined to save art from rampant looting and possible destruction not only by the Nazis during (and leading up to) WWII, but by the Allied forces, as well.  Most of the men recruited to become part of this Allied military effort called the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program were art experts and all were so dedicated to the mission of preventing damage to and the recovery and restoration of art, artifacts, and monuments that they were willing to risk their lives.  I found the story of their amazing struggle and heroic effort, with very little staff or equipment (most of their "equipment" was provided by or scrounged up by the MFAA officers themselves), fascinating.  The narration on the audio version of this book and the writing really brings these people to life.  Their ability to hunt down clues and information, work with locals, crisscross countries in the middle of a war, and coordinate their efforts, resulting in what seemed like superhuman achievements, was enthralling.  I especially loved the integral part played by Rose Valland, a French museum curator, in this accomplishment - her love of art, her drive to be involved with art in her career no matter what the cost to herself personally, and her incredible bravery during the war are inspiring!  The vivid descriptions of the various works of art and their histories led me to do a little more research to learn more about and view images of the art itself (maybe someday I will even get to see the actual art), and hopefully they will do the same for you.

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