In 1943, with the world convulsed by war and a Fascist defeat in Europe far from certain, a few visionariesâ€”civilians and soldiers alikeâ€”saw past questions of life and death to realize that victory wasnâ€™t the only thing at stake. So was the priceless cultural heritage of thousands of years.In the midst of the conflict, the Allied Forces appointed the monuments officersâ€”a motley group of art historians, curators, architects, and artistsâ€”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 â€śthe Venus Fixersâ€ť by bemused troops.Working on the front lines in conditions of great deprivation and danger, these unlikely soldiers stripped the great galleries of their incomparable holdings and sent them into safety by any means they could; when trucks could not be requisitioned or â€śborrowed,â€ť a Tiepolo altarpiece might make its midnight journey across the countryside balanced in the front basket of a bicycle. They blocked a Nazi convoy of two hundred stolen paintingsâ€”including Danae, Titianâ€™s voluptuous masterpiece, an intended birthday present for Hermann GĂ¶ring.They worked with skeptical army strategists to make sure air raids didnâ€™t take out the heart of an ancient city, and patched up Renaissance palazzi and ancient churches whose lead roofs were sometimes melted away by the savagery of the attacks, exposing their frescoed interiors to the harsh Tuscan winters and blistering summers. Sometimes they failed. But to an astonishing degree, they succeeded, and anyone who marvels at Italyâ€™s artistic riches today is witnessing their handiwork.In the course of her research, Brey gained unprecedented access to private archives and primary sources, and the result is a book at once thorough and grandly entertainingâ€”a revelatory take on a little-known chapter of World War II history. The Venus Fixers is an adventure story with the gorgeous tints of a Botticelli landscape as its backdrop.