About this book:
I wanted to read this book before I saw the new George Clooney movie “The Monuments Men.” I have a thing about reading the books that movies are based on. But honestly, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. I was expecting this book to be a history lesson that I needed to hear but would be happy when it was over. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Robert M. Edsel and Brett Witter make history come alive in truly gripping stories about some of the world’s most valuable artworks during one of the world most horrific time periods. Edsel introduces us to some true heroes of World War II that have almost gone unheard of by the general public. This book reads likes a popular spy novel so at the end of every chapter I had to stop and remind myself that this was all real. Edsel conveniently starts the novel with pictures and biographies of the real-life Monuments Men mentioned in the book, and I found myself referring back to these pages so that each chapter was grounded in reality.
While I was reading I flagged numerous pages so that I could look up the famous artwork these heroes saved. And for that alone, I can thank the Monuments Men (and the women supporting them) for exposing me to artwork that I would never have seen in my life. I found myself not just glancing at the artwork, but reading up on the history and origin of pieces that interested me. This is the ripple effect of the work of the Monuments Men which will go on forever.
I recommend that everyone read this book. And I’d vote that every high school student have to read it as a combined lesson in History, English and Art.
(Footnote: After all my bragging about this book my husband tried to read it. He felt it was the slow historical log I had originally feared it would be. So I think your like or dislike of The Monuments Men will depend on your enthusiasm. This isn’t an action adventure page-turner book. It is more introspective about what went on during the war.)
Some samples of the Art mentioned:
- Aristotle Contemplating a Bust of Homer, Rembrandt (1653)
- The Art of Painting, Johannes Vermeer (1666)
- The Astronomer, Johannes Vermeer (1668)
- The Annunciation, Jan van Eyck (between 1434-1436)
- David, Michelangelo (1504)
- Ghent Altarpiece, Hubert van Eyck & Jan van Eyck (completed 1432)
Movies inspired by the Monuments Men (real life):
Some Buildings mentioned:
- Aachen Cathedral
- Chartres Cathedral
- Grand Palais Paris
- Mont Saint Michel Abbey
- Palatine Chapel, Aachen