In his earlier work, The Monuments Men, Edsel told of the bravery and skill of World War II military men assigned to protect and save Europe’s historical buildings and art treasures from injury and loss during the war. It was such an impressive book, I was eager to read the follow-up Saving Italy, which tells of such efforts in that country during the same war.
If you have ever been to Florence, you will know what I mean when I say it’s a city full of architectural and artistic masterpieces. Everywhere you look, every museum, every church, nearly every building, will leave you awestruck. I remember during a visit there hearing that only one bridge, Florence’s most famous, the Ponte Vecchio survived destruction during World War II. In this book, Edsel gives you the whole story: how the allies were instructed to avoid hitting any of these historic bridges, and how the Germans, on their departure from the city, placed and detonated explosive charges around all the bridges to slow the allied advance. Through some miracle, the charges at the Ponte Vecchio did not destroy the bridge.
Also similar to The Monuments Men, these military art experts needed to track down artwork that was stolen, both by the Germans, and by other military personnel. It became a mystery and a race against time, to locate treasures that had sometimes been unknowingly moved into country estates that lay in the path of bombings and battles.
It was a fascinating and nail biting look at real history. Excellent book!
4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2014
Amazon Book Preview of Saving Italy