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Publisher's Summary

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.
©2013 Robert M. Edsel (P)2013 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Saving Italy

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    134
  • 4 Stars
    67
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    35
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    3
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Performance
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    57
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Story
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    129
  • 4 Stars
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  • 3 Stars
    34
  • 2 Stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating story, excellent narration

If you could sum up Saving Italy in three words, what would they be?

For lovers of art, Italian culture and history.

What other book might you compare Saving Italy to and why?

"Monuments Men," also by Robert Edsel, which covers the activities in Northeastern Europe (Belgium, France, Germany, Austria.) That book is also excellent, but the narration in this case is far superior..Edoardo Ballerini has a perfect accent in both American English and Italian, so names are pronounced correctly, as are the quotations in the Italian language. Also, unlike the narrator of "Monuments Men," he does not put on goofy accents when reading direct quotes of non American characters.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

So many...The destruction of the the venerable monastery at Monte Cassino by the Americans for fear of Germans using it as a hiding place...this was one of the events that led to creation of the Monuments Men.The destruction of Florence's bridges by the Nazis, including one believed to have been designed by Michelangelo...The destruction of Camposanto in Pisa..

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

More Personalities than Art Chasing

Compelling WWII history keeps me awake at night, risking of a garroting by earbud wires carefully tucked under my pillow. Not this story however. I hit the off button after ten minutes or so.

The story is an important one; where did the art stolen by the Nazis end up? However, the novel is 3/5 personalities and 2/5 art chasing (I'm being generous). The film Monuments Men, from which this book derives, needed plenty of embellishments to forge a screen play out this rather thin tale based on even thinner records.

There are some great vignettes about very famous art works that make the listener go, "huh" or "what a tragedy." It's just not a whole credit's worth. So…listen to be informed, not entertained, if you chose this book.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • BG
  • 06-28-14

the Vatican survived, barely

What made the experience of listening to Saving Italy the most enjoyable?

I appreciate the extensive research of the author, Much of this history about Word War II in Italy and the military on all sides I did not know. This book was an education everyone should have.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Saving Italy?

I love Italy and lived there so it was personal for me and painful to hear what happened.to the cities, the people, and the art.

What about Edoardo Ballerini’s performance did you like?

He did a fantastic job. His voice and his Italian was perfect for this book.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I don’t know how you could read this and not feel rage, disgust and sadness. and even panic at times.

Any additional comments?

Much is narration, but you will hear from the real characters in the story. Very interesting. I think it is very difficult to present all of this history in an entertaining format. To fully understand, it helps to get a reference of the artwork and the places mentioned in Italy. This is not your ordinary light reading.. Sometimes I would drift a little but it doesn't matter if you don't get every bit of it, listen to the book anyway.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding: highly educational, moving, and entertaining

One of the best for anyone who enjoys history, art, or simply good stories. I’ve re-listened numerous times, and there are still passages that move me to tears. It’s beautifully written and captivating, but simultaneously thoroughly researched and full of detailed information. The narrator imbued the performance with appropriate emotion and the Italian pronunciations of names were superb. Absolutely loved this audiobook and would definitely recommend.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Hoping for something a bit more about art history

I didn't mind lots of commentary and context about WWII - obviously that's what this book is about - but I was really hoping for more material covering the art. Military history is by far my weakest area in history, so I'm glad to have a chance to broaden it, but I also find it very dry.

One of the biggest issues for me personally is that it's hard for me to keep track of a large cast of characters in an audiobook. I love them when reading, but I'm a very visual person and can keep track of names visually. Not so for audio. It's the main reason I don't listen to many fictional audiobooks. This book had far more characters going than I expected it to, and it was hard to keep track.

For anyone interested in military history or broadening their WWII history though, this book would be wonderful. I think the narrator did a good job, and the author obviously did his homework.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Recommended

Fascinating story, not well known. Especially for those interested in art history and WWII history--& anyone visiting Italy.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating story, but...

This is a fascinating story, and mostly a fascinating book though it slows down at times.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Makes Ya Wonder How Much Loot is Still Out There!

Robert Edsel’s “Saving Italy” is an “Above Average” (borderline “Well Above Average” - see final paragraph) 4-STAR book. It served as the inspiration for the movie “Monuments Men” starring Matt Damon.

Edsel’s story was a total eye-opener for me. I mean I knew Italy had art, BUT I really had no idea of the truly colossal amount of art masterpieces contained in Italy. Nor did I comprehend the sickening scale of Nazi looting – especially by Heinrich Himmler and his SS – literal trainloads of museum pillaged loot that was shipped north to Germany. There’s no way all of those stolen paintings and sculptures were returned to Italy, no-doubt there are masterworks displayed in some private home livingrooms. Thank God somebody in the Allied high command had the wherewithal amidst the chaos of World War II to consider the importance of saving the treasures of the Western world and looked to American academia for help.

A narrator of 267 other titles including many by James Patterson, Dean Koontz, Louis l’Amour, and even Danielle Steel, Edoardo Ballerini is excellent. His last name suggests Italian heritage, but I have no idea whether-or-not Ballerini can actually speak Italian. No matter, he’s a total professional, Italian places, people, and things roll off his tongue sounding as if he’s was born and raised in Venice. He also deftly handles what German there is as well.

Ballerini is a solid 5-STARS.

Although I read “Saving Italy” by listening to the audiobook, I also purchased the e-book. Why? Because unless you are an art scholar and an Italian geography guru, you’re going to be half-lost listening to this book. In a story that moves from city to city and town to town, the reader or listener needs a map to keep oriented. The audiobook contains no PDF attachment. The non-audiobook versions (i.e. Written books) just contain pictures, no maps, but at least you’re able to see the actual “Monuments Men” and many of the art masterpieces they saved. But to fully grasp “Saving Italy” you need maps too. Luckily enough for you and me, there are six maps of the WWII Italian Campaign available online via the US Military Academy at West Point:

https://www.westpoint.edu/academics/a...

If the audiobook publisher would have included an attachment of the pictures and some quality, easy to follow maps, this would be a 5-STAR book – hands-down. Pictures and maps add a lot to a story – they bring it to life – and audiobook publishers that do not include the pictures, or the like, which are published in the written versions of the same book are at best shorting, and at worst, ripping-off the consumer. Plus, it’s a disservice to the author and narrator – especially for a New York Times bestseller.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An overlooked aspect of WWII

Such a fascinating story about the war that I had only a vague knowledge of before listening. I am a lover of art history, and lover of Italy, so this book was right down my alley. If you’ve been to Italy and enjoyed the ancient sites and/or countryside (especially Tuscany and South Tyrol) and artwork housed there, you may find yourself sincerely grateful to these rather ordinary men who risked much for our benefit. I had no idea the extent to which the Germans had defiled and destroyed historic Italy. I always assumed that the ally relationship had protected it somewhat. This book details the complicated relationships between unstable dictators, and the dangerous work of the Allies in liberating Italy. Overall, I found this book really interesting and worthy of my time to learn more about this subject.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good information!

I loved the information, but I think reading it may have been for me to keep every name and location straight. They tend to run together! As for narration, it's not bad, but it is read like a book of information. I could still enjoy it though!