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The Venus Fixers: The Remarkable Story of…

The Venus Fixers: The Remarkable Story of the Allied Soldiers Who Saved…

by Ilaria Dagnini Brey

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Last year I read "The Monuments Men", a book about how the Allied military protected and/or recovered artwork from the Nazi's during/after WWII. Although I enjoyed it, at that time I felt it was so overwhelming covering all aspects of the war throughout Europe, and I kept getting "lost". I wondered if it would have been better had it been more focused. "The Venus Fixers" appeared to be the answer, narrowing its focus almost exclusively on activity in Italy

Guess what....I was wrong. "The Venus Fixers" became tedious and repetitive covering details insignificant to the big picture of what was going on.

In short, I could not wait for the book to end. The author seemed to have almost an agenda to make most of the military look bad, highlighting minute, inconsequential events and outlining more mistakes than successes. The tighter focus of the book should have made the flow simpler, instead, the author seemed to purposely jump around from location to location, artist to artist, military event to event, so it became more convoluted than "The Monuments Men".

This books is one of my bigger disappointments for quite some time. Far better books have been written to cover this very interesting aspect of military involvement in WWII. ( )
  pbadeer | Apr 7, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374283095, Hardcover)

In 1943, with the world convulsed by war and a Fascist defeat in Europe far from certain, a few visionaries—civilians and soldiers alike—saw past questions of life and death to realize that victory wasn’t the only thing at stake. So was the priceless cultural heritage of thousands of years.

In the midst of the conflict, the Allied Forces appointed the monuments officers—a motley group of art historians, curators, architects, and artists—to ensure that the great masterworks of European art and architecture were not looted or bombed into oblivion. The journalist Ilaria Dagnini Brey focuses her spellbinding account on the monuments officers of Italy, quickly dubbed “the Venus Fixers” by bemused troops.

Working on the front lines in conditions of great deprivation and danger, these unlikely soldiers stripped the great galleries of their incomparable holdings and sent them into safety by any means they could; when trucks could not be requisitioned or “borrowed,” a Tiepolo altarpiece might make its midnight journey across the countryside balanced in the front basket of a bicycle. They blocked a Nazi convoy of two hundred stolen paintings—including Danae, Titian’s voluptuous masterpiece, an intended birthday present for Hermann Göring.They worked with skeptical army strategists to make sure air raids didn’t take out the heart of an ancient city, and patched up Renaissance palazzi and ancient churches whose lead roofs were sometimes melted away by the savagery of the attacks, exposing their frescoed interiors to the harsh Tuscan winters and blistering summers. Sometimes they failed. But to an astonishing degree, they succeeded, and anyone who marvels at Italy’s artistic riches today is witnessing their handiwork.

In the course of her research, Brey gained unprecedented access to private archives and primary sources, and the result is a book at once thorough and grandly entertaining—a revelatory take on a little-known chapter of World War II history. The Venus Fixers is an adventure story with the gorgeous tints of a Botticelli landscape as its backdrop.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:06 -0400)

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A spellbinding account of the special corps of officers who preserved the masterworks of European art from destruction while World War II raged.

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