Tom Reiss writes about international politics and culture for The New Yorker magazine. In the past, he has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. His work often focuses on how individual lives are affected by history, and is known for its rich juxtapositions of cultures and time periods that bring forgotten people and places to life. He was born in New York City and grew up in Texas and Massachusetts, where he graduated from Harvard College. A 1998 travel magazine assignment in Baku, Azerbaijan, led him to discover the unsolved mystery of Kurban Said.
From the author's website
This biography was last updated on 01/01/2011.
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A Conversation with Tom Reiss
Who was Lev Nussimbaum? What was he really like?
At his height he was a kind of jazz age/Weimar media star, a professional "Orientalist" who liked to play up his exotic childhood, and was part of the café society that included people like Walter Benjamin and also the brilliant Russian exiles, like the Nabokovs and the Pasternaks. It was during the whole "Cabaret" period in Berlin, but it was much much wilder and stranger than it was even presented in that film. But what was amazing to me was that while most Jews in the 20's and 30's tried as hard as they could to assimilate, Lev did everything he could to make himself stand out. In the cafes of Berlin and Vienna he was sporting flowing robes and a turban, and the same thing on his book jackets. And he continued this wild career into the Nazi era, at times confusing the Nazis so much that he had Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry writing to defend him against another Nazi agency that wanted to persecute him as a Jew. He then went to Italy where he became close to Mussolini's inner circle, cultivating a group that pushed a liberal, non-racist form of Fascism. He was either incredibly brave or incredibly suicidal, maybe a ...
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