Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Reads: The Monuments Men

This Friday, I'm indulging in some reading just for me (that means I'm reading something written for adults). I'm reading The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel. It is fantastic.

Here is the official description, courtesy of Goodreads:
At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloging the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: "degenerate" works he despised. 
In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Monuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture. 
Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world's great art from the Nazis.
Over the past few years, I've been trying to read narrative accounts of different events, wars, cultural upheavals, and so forth. It's an attempt to make history seem more real than it did when I studied it in textbooks throughout my education. Ideally, I'd pair this with visiting historical sights...but who has the money to do that?!

I read a brief description of The Monuments Men in a library newsletter highlighting books that were adapted into movies this year. Of all the many books, this was one I 1) had not read and 2) found very interesting. I love stories about everyday people who did extraordinary things during World War II--I blame Elizabeth Weir's outstanding books Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire for this. The book covers the path the Monuments Men took to become involved in the MFAA (Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives) subcomission and the different monuments, sculptures, paintings, and other culturally significant works they strove to protect and recover. I never knew that Rembrandt's The Night Watch spent the war underground in Holland, but it did. Now I know what it took to keep it safe and how it was repaired and returned to Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum after the war was over.

The Monuments Men is a great, engaging read. I highly recommend it. In fact, I'm planning on picking up the author's other books after I finish this one. Check this book out from your local library or pick it up at your favorite indie bookstore! You can also find it at Barnes and Noble or Amazon, if you'd prefer. You can also read more about the author, the Monuments Men, the movie, and the three books the author has written about the MFAA here on the official website.

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