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Had Hitler succeeded in conquering Europe, he would have crowned himself Holy Roman Emperor. The Nazis had in their possession priceless artefacts that would give Hitler legitimacy in his subjects' eyes: the Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire including the Spear of Destiny, alleged to have pierced Christ's side at the Crucifixion. Looted from the royal treasury in Vienna, Austria, the Crown Jewels were hidden in a secret bunker deep beneath Nurnberg castle, known to few but Heinrich Himmler, his staff - and a captured German soldier whose family lived above it. As luck would have it, the officer in charge of interrogating the soldier was First Lieutenant Walter Horn, art history professor. Following his report to General Patton, Horn would be assigned to recover this ancient treasure. Would he find it before covert Nazi agents could use it to revive the defeated regime? Based on recently discovered and previously unpublished documents and interviews with all remaining living participants, this is a tale that surpasses fiction: part thriller, part detective story, all true.
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Kirkpatrick (A Cast of Killers) has brought his fast-paced narrative style to the story of Lt. Walter Horn, the German-born American art professor tasked with recovering the crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire, which had been stolen by the Nazis, were hidden away during the war, and were then missing after the fall of Nazi Germany. Based largely on the testimony and archives of Horn himself, this is an intriguing story for those interested in the plunder and fate of Europe's cultural artifacts during and after World War II. Kirkpatrick tends to overdramatize the importance of his subject, offering without proof the thesis that the crown jewels-pieces associated with the coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor-could have served a powerfully symbolic purpose for the Nazis and then any neo-Nazi groups in the postwar period. Much of the book is redundant conjecture about Nazi motives surrounding the use of the jewels. VERDICT Those who'd prefer a more systematic treatment of this subject would be better served by Lynn H. Nicholas's The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War or Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter's The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History. Readers who enjoyed those works and would like a more personalized account of one of the players in the drama will enjoy Hitler's Holy Relics. (Index not seen.) [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/10.]-Michael Farrell, Reformed Theological Seminary Lib., Oviedo, FL Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

Charles Stransky skillfully narrates this intriguing story. His resonant baritone moves at a pace that is quite easy to follow and comfortable. "AudioFile" "

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