The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life
Tom Reiss did a marvelous job putting together the most convincing theory unveiling the identity of Qurban Said, and an equally admirable effort is devoted to uncovering the flaws...more
Not the most amaaaazingly well-written book, but the subject matter is too awesome for that to matter much. Kind of like Magic Johnson: My Life, but EVEN BETTER.
The subject is Lev Naussibaum(sp?) née Essad Bey, née Kurban Said, née née nay nay etc: UTTERLY FASCINATING, in a manner that could only be the result of events in the first half of the 20th century.
The narrative drags the Mystical, Oriental 19th century kicking and screaming into the Dangerous and Cynical...more
In their eventual flight, both Le...more
"Who is this Essad Bey?" Trotsky asked in a 1932 letter to his son. By then, this mysterious writer had written bestselling biographies of Mohammed and Stalin, a book on the oil industry in Baku (in the early 20th century the Texas of the Caucasus), and a steady stream of articles on literary and political subjects from Tolstoy and Dreiser to the Ottomans and Americans ("American History in Five Hundred Words").
In one photograph he appears as a sporty figure in a fez; in another he is dressed as...more
The identities and fates of men & women, like Lev Nissimbaum, are a leitmotif for the rest of us, seeking to escape the religious fanaticism, nationalism, and other manmade confines on this globalizing planet. Yet others are doing the exact opposite, at the same time, clinging to their disintegrating certainties,...more
Reiss persistently peeled away layers of fact and fiction to recount a remarkable life. He was also lucky: his subject's elusiveness made ferreting out truth difficult, but Reiss discovered six of Nussimbaum's notebooks in the possession of his last editor. Critics agree that The Orientalist fascinates from both a biographical and cultural perspective-it's rich in exotic settings and characters, from an Austrian baroness to a former Hollywood starlet. Despite its charm, the book has some faults....more
While the history is relevant to Lev's life, there's a lot more history of the country, the politics, the people and the literary movements. I enjoyed the glimpses into the exotic places that I didn't really know a lot (or in some cases, knew nothing at all) abo...more
I read the Black Count by this author and it's the same! I made the exception and let it be because I thought the author was giving the background information(more than was necessary in my opinion) when he went on and on with irrelevant story. And, I tho...more