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L'Orientaliste - Une vie étrange et dangereuse (2005)

par Tom Reiss

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8411819,244 (3.96)56
This book traces the life of Lev Nussimbaum, a Jew who transformed himself into a Muslim prince and became a best-selling author in Nazi Germany. Born in 1905 in Baku, at the edge of the czarist empire, Lev escaped the Russian Revolution in a camel caravan. He found refuge in Germany, where, writing under the names Essad Bey and Kurban Said, his remarkable books about Islam, desert adventures, and global revolution, became celebrated across fascist Europe. But his life grew wilder than his wildest stories. He married an international heiress who had no idea of his true identity--until she divorced him in a tabloid scandal. His closest friend in New York was arrested as the leading Nazi agent in the United States. He was invited to be Mussolini's official biographer--until the Fascists discovered his "true" identity. Under house arrest, he wrote his last book, helped by a mysterious half-German salon hostess, an Algerian weapons-smuggler, and the poet Ezra Pound. As he tracks down the pieces of Lev's deliberately obscured life, Reiss discovers a series of shadowy worlds--of European pan-Islamists, nihilist assassins, anti-Nazi book smugglers, Baku oil barons, Jewish Orientalists--that have also been forgotten. The result is a thoroughly unexpected picture of the twentieth century--of the origins of our ideas about race and religious self-definition, and of the roots of modern fanaticism and terrorism.… (plus d'informations)
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» Voir aussi les 56 mentions

Anglais (15)  Finnois (1)  Danois (1)  Catalan (1)  Toutes les langues (18)
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Fascinating story of the classic tragic hero who wanted a life bigger and brighter than his own which in truth wavered between the unbelievable/impossible and the realities of Nazi Europe. Are people who they say they are, or who they want to be?

Leo/Lev Nussimbaum was born to Jewish parents in October 1905, but presented himself as a Muslim aristocrat of Persian and Turkic heritage, or whatever he felt was most advantageous to him given his geographic, economic and political circumstance. What is true is that he was the author of Blood and Oil in the Orient and Ali and Nino, as well as dozens of other works, while surviving in one of the greatest war zones in one of history's most volatile times. He died at the age of 36, impoverished, in Positano.

Read this book also if you're interested in the history of Judaism, early Nazi Europe, Russia, Central Asia, the oil industry -- late 19/early 20C -- or fraud versus imagination, survival versus ambition. ( )
  pbjwelch | Jul 25, 2017 |
Who knows what mysteries will be uncovered in the life of this man? A fascinating biography that is a detective-like investigation into a man who was a Jewish writer masquerading as a Muslim. How can a Jew support Hitler and then Mussolini? Much is revealed, but a lot remains obscured by time. It is a wonder that Weiss managed, through perseverance and luck, to uncover as much as he did. This book also provides insight into many of the same issues facing the Middle East in our modern world. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
En fantastisk fortælling om en helt usædvanligt jøde, Lev Nussimbaum, som iscenesatte hele sit liv som muslim. Bogen rummer et utal af steder og navne fra den første halvdel af det 20. Århundrede. En fuldstændig vanvittig research. ( )
  msc | Jan 18, 2016 |
This book took me a long time to finish it but it was worth every single page. It's not only the biography of Lev Nussimbaum alias Essad Bey alias Kurban Said but also the historical events in Europe and Middle East during the first half of the 20th century. Those events mostly known to me revealed facts that were far different memories for me. I learned a lot about that time and and I think because certain events have been never worked off, the battles go on.
Essad Bey is a colorful character who the political realities could adapt to most. With this fictional character he could move on all parquet. There were moments where I was not sure if he had his Jewish past stripped completely or just covered. In any case I got the feeling to be met by a fantastic charlatan who tried to survive the events and to find his place among the authors. ( )
  Ameise1 | Dec 13, 2015 |
Aquest llibre es la notable investigació i reconstrucció de la fascinant vida d’un excèntric de la literatura: Lev Nussimbaum, un escriptor avui oblidat, un jueu de l’Azerbaijan d’abans de la Revolució Russa. L’ historiador, escriptor i periodista novaiorquès T. Reiss ens acompanya en l'apassionant viatge per la seva vida.
Nascut en una família benestant i completament occidentalitzada al Bakú petrolífer de 1905, Lev és el protagonista d'una vida novel·lesca de la qual és gairebé impossible separar la realitat de la ficció. Exiliat amb la seva família a Alemanya i Àustria després d'una de novel·lesca fugida causada pel triomf de la Revolució Russa, Lev es va convertir en l'exòtic Essad Bey, un intel·lectual musulmà d'aires principescos que va causar sensació en la vida cultural de l'Alemanya d’entreguerres, es va fer amb personatges de la talla de Nabokov, Hesse o Einstein, va publicar nombroses obres que el van convertir en un dels autors més llegits del seu temps.
  bcacultart | Nov 11, 2014 |
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This book traces the life of Lev Nussimbaum, a Jew who transformed himself into a Muslim prince and became a best-selling author in Nazi Germany. Born in 1905 in Baku, at the edge of the czarist empire, Lev escaped the Russian Revolution in a camel caravan. He found refuge in Germany, where, writing under the names Essad Bey and Kurban Said, his remarkable books about Islam, desert adventures, and global revolution, became celebrated across fascist Europe. But his life grew wilder than his wildest stories. He married an international heiress who had no idea of his true identity--until she divorced him in a tabloid scandal. His closest friend in New York was arrested as the leading Nazi agent in the United States. He was invited to be Mussolini's official biographer--until the Fascists discovered his "true" identity. Under house arrest, he wrote his last book, helped by a mysterious half-German salon hostess, an Algerian weapons-smuggler, and the poet Ezra Pound. As he tracks down the pieces of Lev's deliberately obscured life, Reiss discovers a series of shadowy worlds--of European pan-Islamists, nihilist assassins, anti-Nazi book smugglers, Baku oil barons, Jewish Orientalists--that have also been forgotten. The result is a thoroughly unexpected picture of the twentieth century--of the origins of our ideas about race and religious self-definition, and of the roots of modern fanaticism and terrorism.

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