biography, nonfiction, winter-20122013, wwii, paper-read, dip-in-now-and-again, azerbaijan, adventure, history, jewish, slavic, anti-semitic, dodgy-narrator, wwi, teh-brillianz, italy, germany, france, spring-2013, austria, iran-persia
Read from November 30, 2012 to March 27, 2013
who showed me how to travel,
who keeps me from going too far.
I wish they had met.
Opening: On a cold morning in Vienna, I walked a maze of narrow streets on the way to see a man who promised to solve the mystery of Kurban Said.
It's hard to warm to the chameleon, Lev, however his times were eye-poppingly interesting/terrifying; he was forever out of the frying-pan and into the fire and it could be this reason that he kept shape-shifying Zelig-style. Re-inventing oneself to survive is one thing, not knowing when to leave off is worrying - he had the personality traits to become a Hitler, Stalin, Napoleon, Mehmed.
This is an amazing piece of investigative literature by Reiss. Not a book to read at night because of the small font and the print is mid grey on recycled, therefore greyish, paper.
From the Guardian Sept 2011: Recently I read The Orientalist by Tom Reiss, a fascinating account of the life of Lev Nussimbaum, a Jew from Baku who after the Russian revolution escaped via Turkey to Berlin. Semi-safely ensconced in the Weimar capital, he converted to Islam, taking the name "Essad Bey". A career writing bestselling biographies of Stalin and Mohammed followed. His escapades took him as far as Hollywood before he decided to return to Europe at precisely the wrong moment in history. read more of this review here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/...
#79 TBR Busting 2013