Leni: The Life and Work Of Leni Riefenstahl by Steven Bach - review by Carole Angier

Carole Angier

The Art of Propaganda

Leni: The Life and Work Of Leni Riefenstahl


Little, Brown 386pp £25

There are brilliant books about monsters – Ian Kershaw on Hitler, for example, or Simon Sebag Montefiore on Stalin. Leni demonstrates (if you’ve ever doubted it) that Leni Riefenstahl was a monster. Of course she wasn’t a patch on Hitler, and Steven Bach isn’t a patch on Ian Kershaw. So is it worth reading this biography?

Yes, with reservations. Bach does not grapple enough with the difficult questions that are the only good reasons to read or write it. He’s no psychologist, having nothing to say about the role of Riefenstahl’s background – poor working-class – in her lust for power, and only one thing to

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