I'm sure that many of you have seen the movie "The Monuments Men." I found it so intriguing that there had been men trained in the arts who risked life and limb to save the great art of the world during war time. I was soon placing a hold (number 34 in line) at the library for the book "The Monuments Men" by Robert M. Edsel. I noticed that Edsel had written other books including his newest, "Saving Italy." It was marked available and I was soon on my way to the library.
Now for my funny story. I made my way upstairs to the non-fiction section and then to the 940's shelves where war related books are shelved. I was carefully making my way along the shelf when I noticed out of the corner of my eye that a man had turned the corner and was perusing the shelf from the other direction. Then there is was, "Saving Italy" on the very top shelf and it was in my hand. The man's face fell. I asked, "Were you looking for 'Saving Italy'?"
Indeed he was and he had already been to two other libraries in his search. He agreed that, yes, I had been there first and, yes, my hand had reached it first. Honestly, I have never had someone looking for the same book at the same time before. Have you? And then being my generous self, I mentioned that he could put a hold on the book. That ended up costing me some money because I was on my way to Arizona and because of the hold couldn't renew the book online so had overdue fines. End of story.
Back to the book. It is an amazing book and if you have ever been to Florence or Rome (that would not be me but I did take Art History I and II in college) you will be forever grateful to the Monuments Men in Italy who fought for and hid and risked their lives on mountain roads in left over Army issued jeeps. Lucky 13 became the name of one such jeep. Not only will you be grateful to these men, you will also be so impressed at the amount of research the author has done to bring you a detailed story. You will be thrilled with the letters including artful drawings sent home by a father (middle of the above photo) to his son which make all the men seem more human.
The photo was taken on the day that the large horse statue was returned to Florence from its hiding place. Several of the marble statues of Florence were encased in brick pillars for protection. The Vatican became a storage place for the treasures of Rome. How do you fight a brutal war (over 50,000 soldiers died just trying to capture Rome) in a country overflowing with a wealth of art treasures beloved to the whole world? The United States decided to do so as carefully as possible.
If you enjoyed the movie, "Monuments Men" which addressed the fight for art in France, Belgium, and Germany, you would probably enjoy this book about the fight for art on another war front. I certainly did.