In August 1939, curators at the Louvre nestled the world's most famous painting into a special red velvet-lined case and spirited her away to the Loire Valley as part of the biggest museum evacuation in history. As the Germans neared Paris in 1940, the French raced to move the masterpieces still further south, then again and again during the war, crisscrossing the southwest of France. Throughout the German occupation, the museum staff fought to keep the priceless treasures out of the hands of Hitler and his henchmen, often risking their lives to protect the country's artistic heritage. Saving Mona Lisa is the sweeping, suspenseful narrative of their struggle.
`Gerri Chanel's account of how France preserved its art from both the destruction of war and the pillaging of the German occupiers reads like a thriller' -- Caroline Moorehead * TLS * 'Fantastic ... At its best this is a story of the inhabitants of a humiliated country doing all in their power to preserve their nation's cultural heritage ... The black-and-white photographs in this book are worth of an art exhibition in themselves.' * Daily Mail * 'Chanel's history is a work of substance and scholarship that should be part of every art history collection and required reading for anyone who cares about Western civilization.' * Booklist (starred review) * 'A brilliant piece of storytelling explaining how the masterpieces of the Louvre escaped Goering's mantelpiece and Himmler's walls ... This is a grippingly written and meticulously researched contribution to the history of the Second World War.' * The Tablet * 'A compelling true account of the men and women who fought to save France's heritage and a fascinating story of art and intrigue.' * France Magazine * 'This book tells a fascinating story.' * Choice *