BookBrowse Reviews The Orientalist by Tom Reiss

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The Orientalist

Solving The Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life

by Tom Reiss

The Orientalist by Tom Reiss
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2005, 464 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2006, 480 pages

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A page turner of epic proportions!

Comment: Reiss takes us on an intriguing search to uncover the true identity of the author of the 1930's cult novel, Ali and Nino - Lev Nussimbaum, a Jew who became a Muslim prince, who became a bestselling author in Nazi Germany.  Nussimbaum's life began in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, in 1905.  Baku was once the oil capital of the world - a place 'where Islam and the Orient were filtered through a  multicultural European lens'.  When the Soviet's took over Nussimbaum and his father fled for the Persian deserts, where Nussimbaum lived the live of a nomad and converted to Islam.  In the late 1920s he had become a bestselling author in Germany using the names Essad Bey and Kurban Said, until he was forced to flee for Italy, where he died in 1938.  

So why would you be interested in reading about an obscure author who died aged 33 nearly seventy years ago?  ....

"In the hands of a less adept writer, such complex history might grow opaque and tedious, but Reiss' storytelling flair and the utterly compelling character of Lev Nussimbaum turn this biography into a page-turner of epic proportion." --- Booklist

"I greatly enjoyed Tom Reiss's The Orientalist, for its mingled scholarship and sleuthing, and for so elegantly solving the puzzle of one of the Twentieth Century's most mysterious writers." -- Paul Theroux

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This review is from the March 20, 2006 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.



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