100 books like The Monuments Men

By Robert M. Edsel,

Here are 100 books that The Monuments Men fans have personally recommended if you like The Monuments Men. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Stealing the Mystic Lamb

Lauren Fogle Boyd Author Of The Altarpiece

From my list on art and culture during World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in this topic began because of a trip to a museum in 2008. I noticed that a painting had been removed from view and a small piece of paper was hanging on the wall where the painting had been. The paper explained that this piece was involved in a court case revolving around whether or not it had been stolen from its Jewish owner by the Nazis during World War II. Nazi cultural appropriation, looting, suppression, and destruction turned out to be one of the most fascinating stories of the entire war. The research for my historical novel took several years, but it allowed me to write a book based on the facts.

Lauren's book list on art and culture during World War II

Lauren Fogle Boyd Why did Lauren love this book?

Noah Charney is an art historian and has written several interesting books that I have read. Even though this book, Stealing the Mystic Lamb, came out too late for my novel, the “altarpiece” of my book is in fact the “Mystic Lamb” otherwise known as the Ghent Altarpiece. My quasi-obsession with this monumental piece of art is matched by Charney and he describes how often it has been stolen and nearly destroyed. No other piece of art has had a history quite like this one. 

By Noah Charney,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Stealing the Mystic Lamb as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jan van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece is on any art historian's list of the ten most important paintings ever made. It is also the most frequently stolen artwork of all time. Since its completion in 1432, this twelve-panel oil painting has been looted in three different wars, burned, dismembered, forged, smuggled, censored, hidden, attacked by iconoclasts, hunted by the Nazis and Napoleon, used as a diplomatic tool, ransomed, rescued by Austrian double-agents, and stolen a total of thirteen times. In this fast-paced, real-life thriller, art historian Noah Charney unravels the fascinating stories of each of these thefts. Charney also explores psychological…


Book cover of The Faustian Bargain: The Art World in Nazi Germany

Lauren Fogle Boyd Author Of The Altarpiece

From my list on art and culture during World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in this topic began because of a trip to a museum in 2008. I noticed that a painting had been removed from view and a small piece of paper was hanging on the wall where the painting had been. The paper explained that this piece was involved in a court case revolving around whether or not it had been stolen from its Jewish owner by the Nazis during World War II. Nazi cultural appropriation, looting, suppression, and destruction turned out to be one of the most fascinating stories of the entire war. The research for my historical novel took several years, but it allowed me to write a book based on the facts.

Lauren's book list on art and culture during World War II

Lauren Fogle Boyd Why did Lauren love this book?

The Faustian Bargain is all about the art world inside Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. Petropoulos chronicles the artists, art dealers, art professors, art journalists, and many others who were forced to live under Hitler’s cultural rules, which forbade modernist art of any kind. Some profited from this arrangement, others subtly fought against it. This is an inside look at a culture choked and suppressed by its own leadership.

By Jonathan Petropoulos,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Faustian Bargain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nazi art looting has been the subject of enormous international attention in recent years, and the topic of two history bestsellers, Hector Feliciano's The Lost Museum and Lynn Nicholas's The Rape of Europa. But such books leave us wondering: What made thoughtful, educated, artistic men and women decide to put their talents in the service of a brutal and inhuman regime? This question is the starting point for The Faustian Bargain, Jonathan
Petropoulos's study of the key figures in the art world of Nazi Germany.
Petropoulos follows the careers of these prominent individuals who like Faust, that German archetype, chose…


Book cover of The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War

Lauren Fogle Boyd Author Of The Altarpiece

From my list on art and culture during World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in this topic began because of a trip to a museum in 2008. I noticed that a painting had been removed from view and a small piece of paper was hanging on the wall where the painting had been. The paper explained that this piece was involved in a court case revolving around whether or not it had been stolen from its Jewish owner by the Nazis during World War II. Nazi cultural appropriation, looting, suppression, and destruction turned out to be one of the most fascinating stories of the entire war. The research for my historical novel took several years, but it allowed me to write a book based on the facts.

Lauren's book list on art and culture during World War II

Lauren Fogle Boyd Why did Lauren love this book?

This is the go-to book for the Nazi art looting story on the non-fiction side. After I saw the film documentary that accompanies this book, I quickly read it and it got me started on my path to writing my own book. I also use The Rape of Europa as my class text for my college course: “Art and the Nazis.” Lynn Nicholas did an impressive amount of research and devotes chapters to the Nazi art looting in Poland, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy. She also discusses The Monuments Men (US and British officers who attempted to find and save Europe’s cultural items during WWII) but I think that subject is better handled by other books on this list!

By Lynn H. Nicholas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rape of Europa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the Nazi occupation of Poland, France and the Low Countries, and finally Italy, began a colossal wave of organised and casual pillaging stripped entire countries of their cultural heritage. From the day Hitler came to power, art was a matter of the highest priority to the Reich. He and other Nazis were ravenous collectors, stopping at nothing to acquire paintings and sculpture. Nicholas catalogues this theft and destruction but also shows how the dedicated corps of `Museum Officers', brought to Europe after the Allied victory, spent six years locating and sorting huge repositories of treasure and restoring their contents…


Book cover of The Venus Fixers: The Remarkable Story of the Allied Monuments Officers Who Saved Italy's Art During World War II

Lauren Fogle Boyd Author Of The Altarpiece

From my list on art and culture during World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in this topic began because of a trip to a museum in 2008. I noticed that a painting had been removed from view and a small piece of paper was hanging on the wall where the painting had been. The paper explained that this piece was involved in a court case revolving around whether or not it had been stolen from its Jewish owner by the Nazis during World War II. Nazi cultural appropriation, looting, suppression, and destruction turned out to be one of the most fascinating stories of the entire war. The research for my historical novel took several years, but it allowed me to write a book based on the facts.

Lauren's book list on art and culture during World War II

Lauren Fogle Boyd Why did Lauren love this book?

Dagnini’s book focuses specifically on Italy and the amazing stories of Rome, Naples, Florence, and Pisa among others. If you love Italian art and architecture, you will not be able to put this book down. Descriptions of the damage, but also how it was fixed and avoided in some cases, are truly inspiring. Without these Allied personnel, so much more could have been lost.

By Ilaria Dagnini Brey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Venus Fixers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1943, while the world was convulsed by war, a few visionaries -- in the private sector and in the military -- committed to protect Europe's cultural heritage from the indiscriminate ravages of World War II.

In the midst of the conflict, the Allied Forces appointed the monuments officers―a motley group of art historians, curators, architects, and artists―to ensure that the great masterworks of European art and architecture were not looted or bombed into oblivion. The journalist Ilaria Dagnini Brey focuses her spellbinding account on the monuments officers of Italy, quickly dubbed "the Venus Fixers" by bemused troops.

Working on…


Book cover of Rescuing Da Vinci: Hitler and the Nazis Stole Europe's Great Art - America and Her Allies Recovered It

C.F. Yetmen Author Of The Roses Underneath

From my list on photo books that tell stories of World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my “day job” I write about architecture, which means I often write about things I see in photos. When I began writing fiction, I continued using photos as inspiration and research. My novels are inspired by my family’s circumstances at the end of World War II and my fascination with the work of the Monuments Men. Photos show me details like a little girl playing with her doll under a sign that declares her building to be at risk of collapse, or a woman using the ruins of a building to hang out the wash. I love finding ways to use these elements in my writing.

C.F.'s book list on photo books that tell stories of World War II

C.F. Yetmen Why did C.F. love this book?

I chose photo books for my list because I often use photos to help me as I write—either to construct a scene or to provide detail. Because my books are set against the backdrop of the Monuments Men’s work, this book was really the starting point for my writing the trilogy.  

Edsel presents a methodical overview of the vast scope of Nazi art theft in Europe, the destruction wrought on its monuments, and the enormous task of restitution and rebuilding. Seeing the sheer quantity of looted art stacked ceiling-high in endless rows and the faces of the men and women charged with making it right helped me put their work into my fictional work.

By Robert M. Edsel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rescuing Da Vinci as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Monuments Men, which is now a major motion picture directed by and starring George Clooney, Rescuing Da Vinci uses 460 photographs to tell the story of the Monuments Men.   

The Monuments Men were a group of 345 or so men and women from thirteen nations who comprised the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section during World War II. Many were museum directors, curators, art historians and educators. Together they worked to protect monuments and other cultural treasures from the destruction of World War II. In the last year of the…


Book cover of Goering's Man in Paris: The Story of a Nazi Art Plunderer and His World

Isabel Vincent Author Of Overture of Hope: Two Sisters' Daring Plan that Saved Opera's Jewish Stars from the Third Reich

From my list on heroes and anti-heroes in WW2 and the Holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became interested in the Holocaust and the Second World War during my senior year of high school. I took a literature class entitled “Man’s Inhumanity to Man,” which focused a great deal on the literature that emerged from the Holocaust. At the end of the year, I had the great honor to meet author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel who had actually read my essay (my teacher knew him, and gave it to him to read) and encouraged me to keep writing. I am fascinated by stories of survival and the quiet heroism that characterized women like Ida and Louise Cook.

Isabel's book list on heroes and anti-heroes in WW2 and the Holocaust

Isabel Vincent Why did Isabel love this book?

Hermann Goering’s art dealer was a Nazi stormtrooper with a PhD in art history and an athletic build. And Bruno Lohse always made sure the champagne was on ice whenever Hermann Goering arrived at Paris’ Jeu de Paume museum in order to examine the latest in stolen masterpieces.

Although Lohse was arrested after the war for his ties to the Nazi party and spent several years in prison in Germany and France, he was never convicted for his role in stealing art, and went on to make a good living as an art dealer in Munich after the war. Jonathan Petropoulos, a history professor at Claremont McKenna College and expert on the Holocaust, interviewed Lohse several times for this fascinating book.

By Jonathan Petropoulos,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Goering's Man in Paris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A charged biography of a notorious Nazi art plunderer and his career in the postwar art world

"[Petropoulos] brings Lohse into sharper focus, as a personality and axis point from which to explore a network of art dealers, collectors and museum curators connected to Nazi looting. . . . What emerges from Petropoulos's research is a portrait of a charismatic and nefarious figure who tainted everyone he touched."-Nina Siegal, New York Times

"Readers of art history and WWII biographies will appreciate this engrossing deep dive into one of the world's most prolific art looters."-Publishers Weekly

Bruno Lohse (1911-2007) was one…


Book cover of Woman on Fire

Lisa Niver Author Of Brave-ish: One Breakup, Six Continents, and Feeling Fearless After Fifty

From my list on making flight time disappear because you feel in the story.

Why am I passionate about this?

As both a lifelong traveler and reader, I cannot start an adventure without a great book. Having owned a Kindle since 2008, I consistently carry a virtual library, curating an assortment of captivating reads for every journey. As a travel journalist, I fly multiple times a month, which amplifies my need and understanding of the perfect in-flight companions; stories that transport and captivate. As an author with a memoir to my name, I appreciate the transformative power of storytelling. This blend of literary passion, frequent travel, and personal authorship has led me on my search for engaging, unforgettable books that mesmerize the reader.  

Lisa's book list on making flight time disappear because you feel in the story

Lisa Niver Why did Lisa love this book?

I could not put down Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr.

This book is a captivating tale of passion, history, and mystery. Set against the backdrop of 1940s Chicago and war-torn Europe, the novel follows the journey of a resilient journalist navigating love and espionage.

Barr's evocative prose and meticulous research transport readers to a bygone era, creating a rich tapestry of emotions. The intricate blend of romance and suspense ensures a thrilling reading experience perfectly suited for the transient nature of air travel.

As you glide through the clouds, let the pages of this book transport you to a riveting tale of love, courage, and intrigue, making your journey truly unforgettable. 

By Lisa Barr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Woman on Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, SOON TO BE A MOVIE PRODUCED BY AND STARRING SHARON STONE A BUZZFEED MUST-READ FOR 2022

A young journalist embroiled in an international art scandal centred around a Nazi-looted masterpiece, forcing the ultimate showdown between passion and possession, lovers and liars, history and truth.

After talking her way into a job in Chicago, young journalist Jules Roth is given an unusual assignment: locate a painting stolen by the Nazis more than 75 years ago. The painting? None other than legendary artist Ernst Engel's most famous work, Woman on Fire. A dying designer covets the portrait…


Book cover of Contemporary Perspectives on the Detection, Investigation and Prosecution of Art Crime: Australasian, European and North American Perspectives

Gail Levin Author Of Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography

From my list on the fate of the Edward Hopper Estate.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Distinguished Professor of art history at CUNY and biographer of artists. I grew up in Atlanta, attended college in Boston, and have worked in New York since my twenties. With a new Ph.D. in art history from Rutgers, I began as curator of the Hopper Collection at the Whitney Museum, assigned to produce a definitive catalogue of all Edward Hopper’s authentic art. His papers were missing except for his record books that recorded every time a work left for sale, loan, or gift. I traced each work as it left Hopper’s possession and discovered a massive number of undocumented artworks stolen from the estate, which the Whitney still wants to cover up.

Gail's book list on the fate of the Edward Hopper Estate

Gail Levin Why did Gail love this book?

I really like the discussion of the Metropolitan Museum’s celebrated acquisition of the ancient Greek Eurphronios Krater, which turned out to have been stolen from a tomb and had to be returned to Italy.

We read that even taking less valuable items “damages archaeological heritage, thereby compromising or weakening historical scholarship.”

I appreciate how this also applies to the unrelated minister who got into the Edward Hopper estate and who hid Hopper’s papers—5,000 documents—for 50 years, damaging their context, perhaps destroying some.

I wrote my biography and definitive catalogue of Hopper’s art without access to most of these papers. Now that I have seen most of them, I am relieved that my work retains its value. Fortunately, I found another source that provided many of Jo Hopper’s diaries.

By Duncan Chappell, Saskia Hufnagel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Contemporary Perspectives on the Detection, Investigation and Prosecution of Art Crime as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the world of law enforcement art and antiquity crime has in the past usually assumed a place of low interest and priority. That situation has now slowly begun to change on both the local and international level as criminals, encouraged in part by the record sums now being paid for art treasures, are now seeking to exploit the art market more systematically by means of theft, fraud and looting. In this collection academics and practitioners from Australasia, Europe and North America combine to examine the challenges presented to the criminal justice system by these developments. Best practice methods of…


Book cover of Loot: The Battle Over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World

Roger Atwood Author Of Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World

From my list on the looting of the Ancient World.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a journalist, critic, and poet who has spent a career engaging with the world. I love telling stories, and I strive to put beauty and tension into everything I write. I’ve had great editors – they’ve published my work in The Guardian, National Geographic, ARTnews, The Washington Post, The Times Literary Supplement, and Archaeology, where I am a contributing editor, and many other places – but it always comes down to me and my computer. And often a plane ticket and a suitcase. 

Roger's book list on the looting of the Ancient World

Roger Atwood Why did Roger love this book?

The long history of pillage as an act of colonial conquest – Napoleon looting Egypt, Britain looting Greece, among many others – is well-told in this solid, historically grounded account. Why are so many of the world’s great museums filled with treasures from ancient civilizations? This book tells you how it happened, while also showing why countries stripped of their heritage are demanding it back. There are a few books out there entitled Loot: this is the one to read. 

By Sharon Waxman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Loot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the past two centuries, the West has plundered the treasures of the ancient world to fill its great museums, but in recent years the countries where ancient civilizations originated have begun to push back, taking museums to court, prosecuting curators, and threatening to force the return of these priceless objects. Sharon Waxman brings us inside this high-stakes conflict, from the great cities of the West to Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy, as these countries face down the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum, the British Museum, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. She shows how the actions of a few determined…


Book cover of Loot

Shelley Costa Author Of A Killer's Guide to Good Works

From my list on where great art leads to even greater crimes.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of the advantages of growing up in New Jersey is the proximity to the museums in New York City. What great school field trips! And I really believe that’s where my love for art and history began. My cathedrals are art museums, great libraries, Civil War battlefields, wilderness shorelines – experiencing these places lifts me out of the dailiness of life, reminds me of struggle, greatness, and excellence. I guess it was just a matter of time before my sweet spot as a writer and reader is the point of intersection between great art and terrible crimes. Things worth writing about. 

Shelley's book list on where great art leads to even greater crimes

Shelley Costa Why did Shelley love this book?

When a famous stolen Velazquez painting from a truck that went missing back in 1945 turns up in present-day Boston, this fast-paced thriller to recover the rest of the “loot” begins. By me, a girl can’t have too many stories about the infamous Nazi theft of priceless art during WWII. The set-up for this kind of tale is just about the opposite of the intimate crimes in a closed community of “stranded” victims and suspects, which I also really like. Here it’s a big canvas: many works of art stolen during wartime by armies (sometimes during the grunt work, with masterminds off planning). It’s the scope of the art crimes themselves that is so compelling – whole swaths of cultural history disappearing from view. These are enormous crimes with dire implications – even before the murders begin. Loot is the kind of story that slams my heart (in a good…

By Aaron Elkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Loot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A long-lost painting stolen by the Nazis turns up at a Boston pawnshop-and leads to a string of murders-in this "fast-paced and tightly written thriller" (The Seattle Times).

In April 1945, the Nazis, reeling and near defeat, frantically work to hide the huge store of art treasures that Hitler has looted from Europe. Truck convoys loaded with the cultural wealth of the Western world pour in an unending stream into the compound of the vast Altaussee salt mine high in the Austrian Alps. But with the Allies closing in, the vaunted efficiency of the Nazis has broken down. At Altaussee,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in art theft, Germany, and looting?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about art theft, Germany, and looting.

Art Theft Explore 44 books about art theft
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Looting Explore 15 books about looting