The Venus Fixers: The Untold Story of the Allied Soldiers Who Saved Italy’s Art During World War II

Ilaria Dagnini Brey, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $25 (308p) ISBN 978-0-374-28309-4

They were a gaggle of misfits—nerdy, old, bookish and sometimes pompous and abrasive. Yet the group of Allied soldiers nicknamed “the Venus Fixers” believed that saving Italy’s culture—from bombing, from Göring’s coffers, from careless soldiers—was an essential component of the war effort. Initially, it was the Italians who tried to find safe havens for the art, and then the job fell to the Venus Fixers, who performed triage after an area was secured by the military. In one harrowing tale, Brey describes how the Venus Fixers saved delicate manuscripts from being bulldozed along with rubble into the Arno. Often these artistic subversives were at odds with their own armies. In her first book, journalist and translator Brey isn’t as skilled as one would like in bringing her soldiers to life on the page—a shame, given what a unique bunch they were and what an unusual task they had—but the book makes a strong case for what the Allies were fighting for in Italy: its history, and the artworks that continue to inspire us today. 8 pages of b&w illus. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/01/2009
Release date: 08/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 308 pages - 978-0-312-42990-4
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4668-0351-0
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