web analytics
December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » Sections » Books »

Title: The Orientalist: Solving The Mystery Of A Strange and Dangerous Life

Title: The Orientalist: Solving The Mystery Of A Strange and Dangerous Life
Author: Tom Reiss
Publisher: Random House, New York, NY

 

This biography/adventure story of Essad Bey, nee Kurban Said, born Lev Nussimbaum, creatively ties together many disparate elements in a wonderful tour de force that is both enchanting and spell-binding. Reiss masterfully covers many subjects including the fin de siecle, the Russian Revolution, Berlin of the Weimar Republic, the oil discoveries, the exploration of Baku, and many others.

Reiss’ story introduces the reader to a young boy, the son of a landed multi-millionaire and oil-baron, who has a tremendous affinity for language acquisition and a voracious appetite for reading literature in numerous languages. Having had a German nanny at an early age, Nussimbaum easily achieved mastery of various European languages, as well as his native Georgian (southern Russia), Persian (Farsi), Russian, and Polish.

Baku, previously a walled caravan outpost that always contained a Jewish population, became the center of the early twentieth-century’s burgeoning oil production industry and supplied more than half the world’s output of crude oil. The profits were enormous, and Baku soon became home to the likes of the Rothschilds, the Nobels (yes they were Jewish) and dozens of others. During World War II, Hitler’s covetousness for this oil-rich region caused the sacrifice of his entire Sixth Army. He sent troops to Stalingrad where they faced disaster at the hands of the defending Russians.

After the war, rather than being rewarded for fueling the Russian victory, the Azerbaijan area’s citizens were deported to Siberia by Stalin, and this area and its oil industry were allowed to languish.

Reiss’ story begins with his meeting with Peter Mayer, the director of Overlook Press, who wished to publish a romantic novel by Kurban Said named “Ali and Nino.” The setting was in the Caucasus on the eve of the Russian Revolution, and the book was originally published in German in 1937.

The book was revived in English and other languages in the ’70s, but the question of the real identity of the author had never been resolved. The only common agreement was that “Kurban Said” was the nom de plume of a writer who was variously described as having come from Baku and was either a nationalist poet who was killed in the Gulag; the dilettante son of an oil millionaire; or a Viennese café-society writer who died in Italy after stabbing himself in the foot.

Absolutely no one had guessed that “Kurban Said” was really Lev Nussimbaum, a Jew, who during his short life, acted out a real-life “Walter Mitty” existence that was more unbelievable than that recounted in his nearly 40 famous books and biographies.

Mayer needed Reiss’ assistance to research Said’s background because he was being challenged by a Viennese lawyer over the proper author credit. After attending this meeting together with his publisher friend – Reiss was “hooked,” and thus began his five year journey toward the truth.

That he was exploring a truly fascinating individual may be exemplified by his discovery that Nussimbaum theorized (and even tantalized the Nazis) with the speculation that the Jews of Azerbaijan were descended from the Khazar tribes (see Yehuda HaLevi’s Kuzari, and Arthur Koestler’s The Thirteenth Tribe) and thus were Aryan allies rather than Semitic enemies. The Khazar Kagan became a crucial buffer state between the Muslim and Christian worlds during the 7th century, C.E., and were pagans and shamanists (even practicing human sacrifice) until they decided to convert en masse to Judaism.

This richly annotated volume introduces us to many footnotes of history, including such tidbits that the modern Israeli Navy was born of a 1930s Italian Fascist training program, and that the Italian dictator Mussolini endowed a Fascist chair at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The Orientalist is as much a history of a certain period as it is the story of a life, and Reiss makes a yeoman’s work at determining the various influences of history that came to bear upon his protagonist, clearly humanizing his character and separating fact from fiction.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Title: The Orientalist: Solving The Mystery Of A Strange and Dangerous Life”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The annual  Chabad menorah lighting in Sydney has been called off this year because of the murders in the Lindt cafe.
Sydney Chabad Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Canceled ‘Out of Respect’
Latest Sections Stories
book-elisha-davidson

Written with flowing language and engaging style, Attar weaves a spell that combines mystery, humor, adventure and Kabbalah in the most magical place in the world, the Old City of erusalem.

book-path-for-life

There are those who highlight the diversity of these different teachings, seeing each rebbe as teaching a separate path.

South-Florida-logo

Rav Dynovisz will be speaking in Hebrew on Wednesday, January 7, at 7:30 p.m.

South-Florida-logo

Rabbi Simeon Schreiber, senior chaplain at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, saw a small room in the hospital that was dark and dismal but could be used for Sabbath guests.

“The secret to a good donut is using quality ingredients and the ability to be patient and give them time to proof.”

I so desperately want to have a loving relationship with my stepsons.

The Liberty Bell is a symbol of American Independence.

Because you can’t have kids pouring huge jugs of oil into tiny glasses, unless you want to turn your house into an environmental disaster.

Try these with your kids; there’s something for every age group and once all the recipes are made, dinner will be ready!

You children will build the country and you will help restore Israel to her former glory.

Bais Toras Menachem is proud to welcome its new staff member, Yaakov Mark, who will be the Administrator as well as Ort College and GED class coordinator.

Because she is keenly aware that anti-Semitism may start with the Jews but never ends with the Jews, she makes the logical connection between the opprobrium for both America and Israel so commonplace on the political left.

In this narrative of history, it is the third world Palestinians who are victims of the marauding Jews, of course.

More Articles from Aharon Ben Anshel
book-disambiguation

While still a student in a small Midwest college she learns that her aunt in New York has passed away, resulting in her life turning topsy turvy.

book-alex's-wake

Goldsmith himself went on his own “voyage of discovery” to the places where his grandfather and uncle landed and were sent.

Green was an American volunteer in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, but something happened In Israel that has haunted him ever since.

Witnessed by Theodore Herzl, who was a journalist for a Viennese newspaper covering the trial, the cause célèbre became the spark that eventually caused the rise of the State of Israel in modern times.

These eleven nursing home residents and their accompanying staff from the Connecticut nursing home could represent any of us or our own loved ones…

There are three kinds of travelers: there are tourists, there are businesspeople, and then there are historians like Ben G. Frank.

The last kind doesn’t simply go from here to there. They try to relive history and find the real meaning behind what they experience.

Behind “the news” there’s almost always a story that isn’t being reported, and certain kinds of phenomenon occur almost simultaneously all over the world in almost every era.

Whether this is a memoir or autobiography or whether this book was written as an article of regional diplomacy, King Abdullah does come across in this book as a quite sincere person making a valiant effort at regional diplomacy, who is trying to quell terrorism in the Mideast and raise the social and economic levels of his countrymen.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/title-the-orientalist-solving-the-mystery-of-a-strange-and-dangerous-life/2005/02/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: