The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life

The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life

Tom Reiss

Language: English

Pages: 496

ISBN: 0812972767

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A thrilling page-turner of epic proportions, Tom Reiss’s panoramic bestseller tells the true story of a Jew who transformed himself into a Muslim prince in Nazi Germany. Lev Nussimbaum escaped the Russian Revolution in a camel caravan and, as “Essad Bey,” became a celebrated author with the enduring novel Ali and Nino as well as an adventurer, a real-life Indiana Jones with a fatal secret. Reiss pursued Lev’s story across ten countries and found himself caught up in encounters as dramatic and surreal–and sometimes as heartbreaking–as his subject’s life.


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“offenses,” and in the 1890s, Laura convinced him to move the family to the United States. So Sylvester grew up an American from early childhood, but he never lost his nostalgia for those first six years. Sylvester Viereck started writing poetry when he was eleven. He idolized Christ, Napoleon, and Oscar Wilde, wore velvet collars over his evening jackets, and wrote, “I identify with all things morbid and evil. I love the splendor of decay, the foul beauty of corruption.” Such lines might have

Reich. (Tal, the publisher of Ali and Nino, engaged in such subterfuge.) Another solution was to have authors use cover names. In The Lost Library, Lev’s friend Walter Mehring wrote, “The threat of the avalanche hung over Vienna and all the rest of Austria.” In the novel, he imagines a metaphoric library, his father’s, as a storehouse of all the culture that was destroyed by the Nazis and their totalitarian revolution: In front of the St. Stephan’s Cathedral, where funeral bells and Bach’s

kind of medieval torture. Toward the end of Lev’s life, his feet looked pitch black, as though someone had held them in a fire or scorched them with a blowtorch. “My mother and her friends would watch as he screamed in pain,” said the contessa, somewhat guiltily, “and then come running down the street shouting: ‘They cut off a piece of the Muslim! They cut off a piece of the Muslim!’ ” “He would howl like an animal when the pain came, other times he was very quiet and contemplative. You could

their hair and nails grow”: Ibid., p. 224. “Unbelievers, step to the side”: Ibid., p. 226. Committee of Iron: Essad Bey, Blood and Oil, p. 230. “That is the head of the villain”: Ibid., p. 230. This group would sail back across the Caspian: Ibid., pp. 231–41. “At last the four captains”: Ibid., p. 232. “The ship was like an insane asylum”: Said, Der Mann, I, 26B. Their rescue: Essad Bey, Blood and Oil, pp. 239–41. “The birds in the forest sing”: Ibid., p. 241. CHAPTER 4: Escape

III, 39A. “She will come every day”: Ibid., III, 39B. “He told me he was of princely”: George Dixon, “Poetess Freed of Moslem Mate by ‘Remote Control,’ ” New York Daily News, November 28, 1937, p. 20. “What did I know of”: Der Mann, IV, 7B. “The general consul had only three”: Der Mann, IV, 10A. Adjunct Professor Hitler: Ernst Hanfstaengl, Hitler: The Missing Years (New York, 1994), p. 176. Hindenburg banned Hitler’s seductive voice: Sefton Delmer, Trail Sinister: An Autobiography (London,

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