Wednesday, May 29, 2013

WWII Museum to host Robert Edsel

         The National World War II Museum in New Orleans will host a special lecture and book signing for writer and historian Robert M. Edsel at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 30, in the museum’s US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. A reception precedes the free event at 5 p.m. 
            The author will discuss the American effort at the end of World War II to save treasures from the Nazis — the subject of an upcoming major motion picture titled The Monuments Men,” starring George Clooney and Matt Damon.
            Edsel’s talk is called “Saving Italy: The Monuments Men, Nazis, and War” and is based on his book “Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis,” published by W.W. Norton on May 6. The book recounts the determined American drive, before the shooting ceased, to save priceless art looted by the Germans from great museums in Florence and Naples.
            “Robert Edsel weaves a suspenseful tale worthy of an Indiana Jones plot,” said Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, president and CEO of The National WWII Museum. “He pulls you into a dangerous web of intrigue in which the Vatican, top German SS generals, American OSS operatives and Italian officials are entwined in top-secret negotiations to end the war. A must read for any WWII history enthusiast.”
            NBC TV journalist and historian Tom Brokaw echoed Mueller’s praise. “’Saving Italy’ is an astonishing account of a little known American effort to save Italy’s vast store of priceless monuments and art during World War II,” said the network anchorman. “While American warriors were fighting the length of the country, other Americans were courageously working alongside to preserve the irreplaceable best of Italy’s culture. Read it and be proud of those who were on their own front lines of a cruel war.”
            Edsel is the author of the non-fiction books “Rescuing Da Vinci” and “The Monuments
Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History,” as well as the forthcoming “Saving Italy.” He is also co-producer of the award-winning documentary film, “The Rape of Europa.” In addition, he is the founder and president of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, a nonprofit entity that received the National Humanities Medal.
            In addition to Academy Award winner Clooney and Damon, the upcoming film based on Edsel’s book stars Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin and Bill Murray. Clooney will direct and star in the film, which is now in production and has a release date of Dec. 18.
            This book lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Guests can register at the Museum’s website,, or by calling (877) 813-3229, Ext. 412, or by emailing

Lafayette Library Kickoff
            The summer reading program, with the theme “Dig Into Reading,” begins this month at Louisiana libraries. The Summer Kickoff Celebration of the Lafayette Library will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at the South Regional Library.
            The day’s events includes schedule childrens author Johnette Downing presenting “Reading Rocks from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.; Zoo-Zoom: The Little Traveling Zoo on Wheels from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; and The Northside High Drill SQUAD performances from noon to 12:25 p.m..
            This year’s Teen Summer Reading theme is “Beneath the Surface” and the Adult Summer Reading theme is “Groundbreaking Reads.” Adults and teens who register and log books online will have opportunities to win prizes in drawings throughout the summer.
            Programs for all ages will be held at the many branch libraries in June and July. For more information on all the reading programs and updates on events, visit or
Donald S. Frazier
Book events
            “Swamp Stop!, a family day with special guests Ouachita Parish Fire Department, Black Bayou Wildlife Refuge, and Armstrong Crickets, will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 30, at the West Ouachita Library. 
            The Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration Speaker Series presents Donald S. Frazier who will speak on "Fort Burton at Butte la Rose: Confederate Key to the Atchafalaya" at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 30, at Capitol Park Museum
in Baton Rouge. Frazier is professor of history at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, and the award-winning author of three books on the Civil War, including "Blood and Treasure," "Cottonclads" and "Fire in the Cane Field." His other work includes serving as co-author of Frontier Texas, Historic Abilene and The Texas You Expect: The story of Buffalo Gap Historic Village, as well as general editor of The United States and Mexico at War. For information, visit

Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at