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By Tom Reiss

An exciting page-turner of epic proportions, Tom Reiss’s panoramic bestseller tells the real tale of a Jew who remodeled himself right into a Muslim prince in Nazi Germany. Lev Nussimbaum escaped the Russian Revolution in a camel caravan and, as “Essad Bey,” turned a celebrated writer with the iconic novel Ali and Nino in addition to an adventurer, a real-life Indiana Jones with a deadly mystery. Reiss pursued Lev’s tale throughout ten international locations and located himself stuck up in encounters as dramatic and surreal–and occasionally as heartbreaking–as his subject’s life.

 

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The Ashurbekovs weren't quite wealthy! ” she’d say, recalling a pecking order now greater than 80 years outdated. “They have been wealthy. ”) I had noticeable her family’s crest on constructions in every single place Baku and its outskirts; her father, Shamsi Asadullayev, have been a good philanthropist. Like such a lot of others, the Asadullayevs had fled in 1920 to flee the revolution, and Zuleika had lived in obscurity outdoor of Azerbaijan for nearly 80 years—first in Turkey, then within the suburbs of Washington, D. C. Now, all of sudden, in her nineties, the rustic that had pushed out her kin used to be inviting her again to be a neighborhood megastar. She was once continually on the town for the yearly Baku “oil show,” whilst lobbyists and representatives of the world’s oil businesses descended at the urban. probably Zuleika used to be a type of good-luck attraction for the trendy oil prospectors, a reminder that this urban had as soon as upon a time made lots of people very, very wealthy. “Let me let you know approximately my existence, Tom, you wouldn’t think it! You’d say i used to be lying,” she’d start, and sometimes interrupt herself to indicate to the tv, the place lets see her talking to the Azeri president and numerous representatives of Exxon, Chevron, and Royal Dutch/Shell. Zuleika didn’t locate it unusual that Lev might have switched over to Islam or replaced his lifestyles tale to undertake one toward that of her brother. “To be a Muslim like my relatives have been Muslims used to be to have a common faith, a appreciate for culture yet by no means dogma. ” She instructed me that her father by no means permit her or her sisters put on the veil other than at funerals. “He observed it as an indication of backwardness, and there has been not anything backwards approximately our form of Islam. it isn't like this present day, with those horrid fundamentalists who're as undesirable because the Nazis or the Bolsheviks. . . . No, no, there has been by no means something inflexible approximately this id, on the contrary. It used to be Bolshevism, the anti-religion of our time, that used to be inflexible. We have been easily open to the currents of tradition into which we have been born. ” Zuleika promised to seem for her brother Asad’s correspondence with Lev, and that i introduced it up back whilst I visited her at her retirement neighborhood outdoor Washington the following 12 months. yet she appeared quite a bit older then, notwithstanding she promised to “pull strings with the president” for me on her subsequent journey to Baku; the promise obtained her blood going and she or he appeared more youthful back. Then she, too, died, later that summer season, after doing one final oil convey. Now, to my wisdom, no teenagers are left of the unique Baku oil barons wherever on the earth, no less than none who're sufficiently old to have stories of the time and coherent sufficient to bear in mind them. even though Lev might later glorify the area of the oil millionaires, whilst he was once starting to be up, he hated it and escaped each time he may into the town of the previous Orient. jogging alongside the big ramparts of the khan’s palace, he pretended to be a prince—a prince with out middle situation who may well guard himself along with his dagger, no longer a half-dozen bodyguards and a nursemaid. “The wall,” he remembered, over the nice arched portal ran the key arabesque symbols of a vanished prior.

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