Casts a bright light on the dark past of a superb artist who cozied up to killers, got what she wanted and spent the ensuing...

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LENI RIEFENSTAHL

A LIFE

A well-researched, judicious view of the life of the woman whose arresting images of the Third Reich pursued her until her death in 2003, at the age of 101.

Riefenstahl cooperated somewhat with Trimborn (Film, Theater, Art History/Univ. of Cologne), though as he shows repeatedly, she guarded her story with Cerberean ferocity. For nearly 60 years, she denied and lied about her past, and Trimborn does his best to separate truth from fiction and self-deception. For her early life, he is forced to rely on her memoirs (Leni Riefenstah, 1993), a volume he calls “worthless as a historical document.” Trimborn tells us about Riefenstahl’s harsh father, her youthful determination to be a dancer (a knee injury ended her promising career), her explosive arrival in the 1920s German cinema as a sexy star of the “mountain film” genre. Trimborn shows Riefenstahl’s fierce ambition to become a director in a male-dominated art form. In the early 1930s, Adolf Hitler became her hero, her patron. (Trimborn does not think anything sexual occurred between them, though opportunities were ample.) For the Nazis she produced The Triumph of the Will, the world’s most notorious propaganda film, which premiered on the Führer’s birthday in 1938 and conferred upon her a celebrity she would never again enjoy. Trimborn examines all of Riefensthal’s films (with closest looks at her early ones) and views her principally as a “careerist.” She was interested in making films, and Hitler was a devoted supporter, funding her efforts even as Allied bombs rained on German cities. The author carefully chronicles Riefenstahl’s long post-war life: her numerous failed film projects, her many trips to Africa (her stunning photographs of the Nuba people made her financially secure once again), her late-life underwater film (Underwater Impressions, 2002).

Casts a bright light on the dark past of a superb artist who cozied up to killers, got what she wanted and spent the ensuing decades as the queen of denial.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2007

ISBN: 0-374-18493-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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