When Hitler's armies occupied Italy in 1943, they also seized control of mankind's greatest cultural treasures. As they had done throughout Europe, the Nazis could now plunder the masterpieces of the Renaissance, the treasures of the Vatican, and the antiquities of the Roman Empire.
On the eve of the Allied invasion, General Dwight Eisenhower empowered a new kind of soldier to protect these historic riches. In May 1944 two unlikely American heroes - artist Deane Keller and scholar Fred Hartt - embarked from Naples on the treasure hunt of a lifetime, tracking billions of dollars of missing art, including works by Michelangelo, Donatello, Titian, Caravaggio, and Botticelli. With the German army retreating up the Italian peninsula, orders came from the highest levels of the Nazi government to transport truckloads of art north across the border into the Reich. Standing in the way was General Karl Wolff, a top-level Nazi officer. As German forces blew up the magnificent bridges of Florence, General Wolff commandeered the great collections of the Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace, later risking his life to negotiate a secret Nazi surrender with American spymaster Allen Dulles.
Brilliantly researched and vividly written, Saving Italy brings readers from Milan and the near destruction of The Last Supper to the inner sanctum of the Vatican and behind closed doors with the preeminent Allied and Axis leaders: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Churchill; Hitler, Göring, and Himmler.
An unforgettable story of epic thievery and political intrigue, Saving Italy is a testament to heroism on behalf of art, culture, and history.
New York Times Bestseller
'An astonishing account of a little-known American effort to save Italy's . . . art during World War II.' - Tom Brokaw
About the Author
Robert M. Edsel is the author of The Monuments Men (soon to become a major film starring George Clooney)and Rescuing da Vinci. He is the founder and president of the Monuments Men Foundation, a recipient of the National Humanities Medal and a trustee at the (US) National WWII Museum.
"Dramatic...lively narrative." -- Andrew Nagorski - Washington Post "Revealing...That the Monuments Men were able to do as much as they did, amid a war with more urgent priorities is remarkable." -- Hugh Eakin - Wall Street Journal "Riveting narrative history." -- San Francisco Chronicle "An absorbing, thoroughly researched gallop of a history book." -- Noah Charney - Daily Beast "A teeming work...by an author passionate about his subject." -- Matthew Price - Newsday "A suspenseful tale worthy of an Indiana Jones plot. He pulls you into a dangerous web of intrigue in which the Vatican, top German SS generals, American OSS operatives and Italian officials are entwined in top-secret negotiations to end the war. A must read for any WWII history enthusiast." -- Gordon H. "Nick" Mueller, President/CEO, The National WWII Museum "Edsel's recovery of the history of the Monuments Men makes for a remarkable and fascinating story. As more recent conflicts have shown, the havoc that war can wreak upon our artistic heritage has unfortunately not diminished and there are important lessons in this book for policy makers and all who care about the preservation of the world's artistic legacy for future generations." -- Timothy Potts, Director, the J. Paul Getty Museum "An amazing story, superbly told." -- Carlo D'Este, bestselling author of Patton: A Genius For War