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Dietrich & Riefenstahl: Hollywood, Berlin, and a Century in Two Lives


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Marlene Dietrich and Leni Riefenstahl, born less than a year apart, lived so close to each other that Riefenstahl could see into Dietrich’s Berlin apartment. Coming of age at the dawn of the Weimar Republic, both sought fame in Germany’s burgeoning motion picture industry. While Dietrich’s depiction of Lola-Lola in The Blue Angel catapulted her to Hollywood stardom, Riefenstahl―who missed out on the part―insinuated herself into Hitler’s inner circle to direct groundbreaking if infamous Nazi propaganda films, like Triumph of the Will. Dietrich, who toured tirelessly with the USO, could never truly go home again; Riefenstahl could never shake her Nazi past. Acclaimed German historian Karin Wieland examines these lives within the vicious crosscurrents of a turbulent century, evoking piercing insights into "the modern era’s most difficult questions, about illusion and mass intoxication, art and truth, courage and capitulation" (New Yorker). Softcover, 624 pages