About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel

18. - 531.) The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel – I had heard of the discovery of vast looted Nazi art by American soldiers in an Austrian salt mine but never knew there was a group of men designated by the American Army to protect monuments and search for stolen art. I was surprised that a vast amount of work was done by essentially one man for each American Army and the Canadian Army after D-Day. These dedicated men of various backgrounds diligently followed the armies as close to the front lines as possible (two were killed). In France a quiet dependable Rose Valland, was vastly underrated by the Germans who never realized this clerk was keeping track of everything taken and where it was sent. In France the Nazis essentially plundered private, especially Jewish collections. Outside France they were less particular. They had less fear of international condemnation. In Belgium they stole a Pieta sculpted by Michaelangelo from Bruge and beautiful Van Eyck panels from Ghent. Moving into Germany they sought out the caches of looted art. Ludwig’s fairy tale castle at Neuschwanstein held most of the art works from France. A vast store of art and gold was located at Merkurs. I knew Hitler’s personal collection was in a salt mine in Austria but never realized the danger to the art and how it was saved. For some reason I had thought finding the art in the mine was accidental. The Monuments Men knew it was a treasure trove. The Allies efforts to preserve heritage sites and to seek out and return art were remarkable. It is the first time a conquering Army has made the effort to search out stolen art and return it to the original owners. The contrast between Nazis and the Allies could not have been plainer. The saviours of much of Europe’s cultural heritage have received little recognition. Without this book I would not have known of their actions. The book flows swiftly and becomes a non-fiction chase. The dialogue of characters does not work well for me in non-fiction. I always wonder how much else was added to or even imagined. I would certainly read Edsel’s next book. (Apr. 30/10)

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