April 20, 2016

Book Review: "Dietrich & Riefenstahl" by Karin Wieland

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Dietrich & Riefenstahl, by Karin Wieland

Dietrich & Riefenstahl: Hollywood, Berlin, and a Century in Two Lives
By Karin Wieland
Liveright / WW Norton
Reviewed by Jason Pettus

To be fair, the new dual biography Dietrich & Riefenstahl is both really well done and a great concept for a book; two German women of around the same age, both in the entertainment industry, and who even lived on the same street at one point in the Weimer Era, the fact that their lives took such wildly different directions after the rise of fascism (Marlene Dietrich turned her back on Nazism and moved to Hollywood, where she became a huge success among Allied audiences, while Leni Riefenstahl embraced Nazism, turned to avant-garde cinematography, and became just as huge a success among Axis audiences) says loads about Europe during the war, the historic split between left and right politics at the time, and the heartbreaking decisions that all Germans were forced to make in those years. No, the problem is that, at 600 densely packed and dryly written pages (which would easily be 900 pages under a normal layout), this was simply way more information than I was interested in, making the book a slog that I sort of gave up on about halfway through. A great title for those with a special interest in the subject, it's unfortunately a little too daunting for those like me with only a passing interest, and it should be kept in mind before picking it up.

Out of 10: 7.0, or 9.0 for those with a special interest in this subject

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Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:00 AM, April 20, 2016. Filed under: Literature | Literature:Nonfiction | Reviews |