Academic journal article Military Review

THE MONUMENTS MEN: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History

Academic journal article Military Review

THE MONUMENTS MEN: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History

Article excerpt

THE MONUMENTS MEN: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, Robert Edsel with Bret Witter, Center Street Hachette Book Group, New York, 2009, 457 pages, $26.99.

Reading more like a whodunit novel than historical nonfiction, Robert Edsel's The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, tells the story of the Nazis' theft and concealment of Europe's art treasures during World War II and the subsequent Allied recovery efforts. Actual campaigns and battles serve as a backdrop to the search and recovery of the stolen treasure.

The theft of art is as old war itself and continues to be relevant in today's crises. The authors make extensive use of first person interviews; public and private historical collections; and books, articles, and other research. As the title indicates, The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History tells the story of the birth and maturity of a little-known World War II Allied unit called the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) section, which was eventually comprised of personnel from both British and American commands. MFAA drew its staff from fine arts academia and servicemen from across America whose expertise included museum directors, curators, art scholars and educators, artists, architects, and archivists. …

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