The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl

Publisher: Vintage
Leni Riefenstahl, the woman known as “Hitler’s filmmaker,” made some of the greatest and most innovative documentaries ever made. They are also insidious glorifications of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Now, Steven Bach reveals the truths and lies behind Riefenstahl’s lifelong self-vindication as an apolitical artist who claimed to know nothing of the Holocaust and denied her complicity with the criminal regime she both used and sanctified.

A riveting and illuminating biography of one of the most fascinating and controversial personalities of the twentieth century.


I want to become something quite great.
—Leni Riefenstahl

Leni Riefenstahl created images from light and shadow, from movement, rhythm, passion, prodigious energy, physical courage, and driving, epic ambition. She had, she said, one subject—beauty—and...
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“Brilliant. . . . It’s difficult to overpraise Bach’s efforts. . . . A compulsively readable and scrupulously crafted work . . . . [Bach created] an almost novelistically compelling narrative of a life endlessly obfuscated by lies.”
The Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Energetic . . . Serves as [a] much needed corrective to all the spin, evasions and distortions of the record purveyed by Riefenstahl.”
The New York Times

“Fascinating. . . . The definitive new biography from Steven Bach should silence any lingering Riefenstahl apologists. . . . [He] bravely sorts through the mountain of falsehoods.” —Film Comment

“Fascinating. . . . Leni is a cautionary tale about an artist whose prodigious determination and ambition seem to have been unmediated by the slightest influence of conscience, soul, or heart.”
O, The Oprah Magazine