Remember when we found that article that listed all the movies that were being made this year that were based on books?  Remember how we thought it would be a good idea to read them all and then go see the movies?  Well, I am starting to doubt that great idea. It has been difficult finding, reading and enjoying all of these books! Let me start by reviewing the first book I have read and liked The Monuments Men.

This book was a bit of a struggle to get into for me, but once I was 100 pages in, I wanted to finish.  If you love history, and/or art you will like this book.  It takes place during World War II. A group is formed to rescue and preserve as much art and cultural history as they can.  Hitler was responsible for the confiscation and theft of thousands of pieces of artwork during this time.  Some of it has yet to be found and returned. Robert M. Edsel does his best to retell the story of a few of the people that participated in the rescuing of so many of the artwork we love and enjoy today. Because it was a little bit difficult to follow, I went and saw the movie before I was done with the book. I will tell you about the movie first and then the book.

The Movie:
I was only into the book about 100 pages when I went to see the movie and I was already comparing the tiny details.  This may be one of those reasons why this was not a good idea.  Whenever I see a movie after I read the book, I am super critical about the tiny details! You just gotta remember going into this movie that it is BASED on the book. They said that at the beginning of the Harry Potter movies, and we all know what happened by HP7 part 2 (gag me, let's not go there). And I digress..... Back to The Monuments Movie.... I did enjoy it, despite the fact that there were a number of things that were different.  Don't go into this movie thinking that all of it is fact.  A lot of it isn't what happened in the book. For one thing, all of the characters names were different than the names of the actual people they were portraying. George Clooney's character in the movie was Frank Stokes, but the person's name in the book (and real life) is George Stout. Not one character's name matched their real life counterpart. I don't know why Hollywood does this. Maybe someone can enlighten me? I won't go into every detail that was different and not historically correct because well that would give the movie away if you haven't seen it and it will give you incentive to read the book.

George Clooney directed the movie and contributed to writing the screenplay.  I have seen other movies Clooney has directed and they are not my favorite. Well come to think of it, just Leatherheads, but it was a little disappointing.

One of my favorite parts of this movie though, had a scene that is almost identical to a scene from Ocean's Eleven.  My husband and I LOVE the Ocean's movies and we quote them frequently. In The Monuments Men there is a scene with George Clooney and Matt Damon where they are trying to figure out how many men they will need for this "big heist" of rescuing and preserving art.  The almost identical scene from Ocean's is with George Clooney and Brad Pitt figuring out how many people they need to rob the Bellagio.

The Monuments Men

Ocean's Eleven 

Overall, I did like the movie. but if you want to know what really happened, read the book!

The Book:
You guys I love the book.  I am not completely finished with it but will be soon! It was difficult for me to get into.  There are a lot of characters and the book jumps from person to person and place to place a lot so it can be a little difficult to follow but if you stick with it, you eventually start getting who everyone is and where they are going.  In the front of the book there is a list of the main characters with short bios and pictures for them that will help you keep things straight.  At the back of the book, there is another list of supporting characters. And in the middle of the book there are a few pictures to illustrate (if you don't know much about art history) some of the places and pieces of art work they are talking about. The pictures below are just a few of the hundreds of thousands of pieces of artwork stolen, moved or threatened during WWII.  One thing that helped me understand more as I was reading was to Google search the items or places they were talking about.

Chartres Cathedral

Jan Van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece
Michelangelo's Madonna with Child

The Astronomer by Jan Vermeer

Let me tell you about my favorite character.  Her name is Rose Valland.  She was a French woman that worked in a museum where the Germans shuffled art through before it went to Germany.  She was a spy for the French Resistance and risked her life for four years to preserve and keep the art from leaving France.  She cataloged almost everything that went through the Jeu de Paume (the museum where she worked) and kept record of where the art pieces were going and whom they were stolen from. I was very inspired by her and just found out there is a book all about her called Rose Valland: Resistance at the Museum by Corinne Bouchoux.

Cate Blanchett plays Claire Simone (Rose Vallanad) in the movie

I think reading and learning about history and war is so important. Especially this story of the arts and the people who risked their lives to preserve it.  It is not the story we usually hear about when learning about WWII. Reading this book gave me a new appreciation for all those that have died to protect our freedoms. It is easy to forget about the sacrifices that have been made so that we can live the lives we do today.  We take so much for granted. Please read The Monuments Men and remember a few of those and the risks they took to persevere our freedoms and the things we love. Also check out to learn more about it. 

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