The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History
Author: Robert M. Edsel
Narrator: Jeremy Davidson
Source: Library online
Recommended: The movie coming out.
I have no idea why I haven’t heard of this event before. I knew about the looting of art and more the Nazi’s had done during their sweep across Europe (from an episode in Hogan’s Heroes as well as history books), but I had zero knowledge of these interesting and amazing men before I saw the first trailer. When I saw my library’s online site had the audiobook of this available, I jumped on it. Good thing too, there’s already a hold list!
I wish I had heard of this before, because this is history I’ve waited to learn about my whole life. I came within a hairsbreadth of being an Archivist and I can in some ways understand the drive and burning passion needed in order to walk into a war…to save art. On one level perhaps of lesser importance…but on another level this is an immeasurable necessity. Every time one of the Monuments men discovered a mistreated or destroyed piece of art or history, I couldn’t help but wince in pain and loss. So much damaged and loss because of greed to possess; often they didn’t even care about the artwork or even the value, simply the ownership.
I don’t know what Hollywood will do with this story, but it needs no ‘added excitement’. These men, diverse yet with the same passion to protect culture, history, and priceless art, risked their lives and traveled as close to the front of the army as they could in order to make sure the soldiers and commanders knew what places and more needed to be protected. There are several men mentioned; at times I found it hard to keep track of them all. While the writing aids with that to a degree, what really helped was the narrations of the audiobook. Davidson gave each character a voice, even adding accents, American as well as French, British, and German. This is of great help as well as makes the characters come even more alive.
And the writing is really good. It flows well and the narrative is both factual and personal. You get to know these men and the people around them that aid them in their search. This is partially created through the letters from the men to their families that are throughout the text. The ending, where we find out the fates of these people after the war, is wonderful though many of the people did not receive their due.
I could go on and on about all the situations each of these men and one woman experienced…but I won’t. All I’ll say is this is a piece of history you should definitely learn more about.