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
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.
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