A persuasive, nuanced and surprising picture of German culture under the Nazis.

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ARTISTS UNDER HITLER

COLLABORATION AND SURVIVAL IN NAZI GERMANY

Petropoulos (History/Claremont McKenna Coll.; Royals and the Reich: The Princes von Hessen in Nazi Germany, 2006, etc.) questions the prevalent assumption that Nazis denigrated modernism and quashed evidence of avant-garde movements in the arts.

Examining the careers of selected visual artists, composers, architects, a poet, an actor and, of course, filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, the author argues that the cultural milieu of Nazi Germany was complex and often contradictory. Although publicly deriding modernism as degenerate, many high-ranking Nazis collected modernist works, bought from French dealers or plundered from confiscated collections. Austrian art historian Kajetan Mülhmann, “arguably the most prolific art plunderer in history,” mounted many modernist exhibitions. Focusing on modernists themselves, Petropoulos questions their motives in seeking accommodation with the Nazi regime. He concludes that some, despite their artistic proclivities, were Nazi sympathizers; some misunderstood or underestimated Nazi goals; others were so egotistical that “they thought their work to be indispensable to their field”; some were simply opportunists; and some believed “that the intellectual goals of modernism and fascism were compatible.” Petropoulos cites five modernists whose efforts at accommodation failed: Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius and composer Paul Hindemith, who left Germany during the war, expressionist poet Gottfried Benn, sculptor Ernst Barlach and visual artist Emil Nolde, who remained but whose careers were compromised. Among the five, Nolde was a Nazi sympathizer and anti-Semite; but Barlach, who “identified with the downtrodden and marginalized,” was not. Modernists who flourished were composer Richard Strauss, actor Gustaf Grundgens, sculptor Arno Breker, architect Albert Speer, and Riefenstahl, who tried mightily to revise or conceal her past after the war. She claimed that she had been “a sworn enemy of Goebbels,” committed only to her art and apolitical. These 10 artists, Petropoulos claims, were exemplary of many other modernists.

A persuasive, nuanced and surprising picture of German culture under the Nazis.

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0300197471

Page Count: 424

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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