The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life
Tom ReissISBN: 0812972767;
Lev Nussimbaum fabricated a life that in its brief arc encompassed the whole of the Western and Near Eastern culture of his time. A Jew from the Caucasus, born in the first throes of the Russian Revolution, he styled himself a Muslim prince. As Kurban Said, he wrote a best-selling novel that made him the toast of Nazi Germany. Inventing and reinventing himself, he left a confused and perplexing trail. Reiss pursues two great narratives, one recounting Nussimbaum's life itself, the other following the author's quest to ferret from among myths and outright lies the truth of this man's life. Along the way, readers absorb much about oil-rich Azerbaijan, the Russian Revolution, the rise of fascism, and the centuries-old clashes of cultures and religions in the Caucasus and Middle East. Digressions abound because of Nussimbaum's intricate, multicultural encounters. In the hands of a less adept writer, such complex history might grow opaque and tedious, but Reiss' storytelling flair and the...
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