During World War II, one of the difficulties faced by the allied forces lay in the fact that priceless works of art and ancient architectural structures of cultural importance often became damaged or destroyed due to the fighting. No country had more at stake in this area than Italy. Early on, Italians (regardless of which side they were allied to) strove to remove and safeguard tens of thousands of art pieces, hiding them away in county villas and even in the Vatican. And surprisingly, the US Armed Forces took the danger that an Allied Invasion into Italy would have on Italian art during the planning stages. Ms. Brey told how hundreds of art experts were called upon on the US to put together a master list of buildings and artifacts that needed to be spared if possible. “The Monuments Men” were in charge of making sure bombs were carefully targeted away from such treasures, and teams of restorers were on hand to save any pieces that had become damaged. It was a monumental task.
This is a subject that fascinates me, and although Ms. Brey’s book was not as enjoyable and didn’t flow as well as Robert Edsel’s The Monument’s Men, I appreciated the focus on Italy and was able to learn something new from this book.
2 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2009
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