Tom Reiss biography

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Tom Reiss
©theorientalist.info

Tom Reiss

How to pronounce Tom Reiss: last name rhymes with peace

Tom Reiss Biography

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 (pronounced kur-BAHN sa-EED), the subject of his first book The Orientalist.

He is also the author of The Black Count. His books have won the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN Award and have been published in over 25 languages. He lives in New York City.

Tom Reiss's website

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Interview

Tom Reiss, author of The Orientalist, traces the mysterious life of Lev Nussimbaum, a Jew who transformed himself into a Muslim prince and became a best-selling author in Nazi Germany. 

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 bit of both.


In an era when ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Tom Reiss at BookBrowse
The Black Count jacket The Orientalist jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Tom Reiss but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Margalit Fox

    Margalit Fox

    Margalit Fox is a public speaker and an award-winning reporter in the famed obituary news department of The New York Times as well a former New York Times Book Review editor. Fox has a master's degrees in linguistics from ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Black Count

    Try:
    The Riddle of the Labyrinth
    by Margalit Fox

  • Conn Iggulden

    Conn Iggulden

    Born in London, Conn Iggulden read English at London University and worked as a teacher for seven years before becoming a full-time writer. He is the author of the number one bestselling Emperor series about Julius Casear; ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Black Count

    Try:
    Genghis: Lords of the Bow
    by Conn Iggulden

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