This is an incredible account of the men and women who helped preserve the culture of humanity during World War II. Admittedly, I picked up this book after having seen the trailer for what looks to be a truly entertaining film (The Monuments Men with George Clooney et al). And I’m so glad I decided to read the book. I hope the movie inspires many more people to read this book.
There is so much information available from the first person accounts of those who lived the task to protect the great artworks of not just the Allies but also of the Germans. While the book focuses on the story of the looted artwork and hidden repositories, you still feel the horrors of the war. While the Monuments Men were not directly fighting they were often in contact (some more directly than others) and witness the destruction and pain all across Europe. Reading this book brought home the importance of art and inspired me about our cultural institutions. It also made me want to read and learn so much more about the history of the war, the people involved, and mostly about the art.
I will admit, this book took me longer to read than I expected because I kept stopping to look up the actual art pieces (I got particularly distracted by Ghent Altarpiece and the Bayeux Tapestry which you can explore in great detail online).
I highly recommend The Monuments Men to art lovers, history buffs, and everyone else.