Ali & Nino

The Business of Literature
Who wrote Azerbaijan’s most famous Novel?

“Azerbaijan International”

– A Review –

by Hans-Jürgen Maurer, Frankfurt/Germany

– Edited February 2024 –


In September 2011 the notable British newspaper, The Guardian, published an article with the headline “The vanishing fascination of truly anonymous authors”. In it author Daniel Kalder gives a brief but excellent overview of the fight over the question “Who is behind the author Kurban Said who wrote the novel Ali & Nino?”.

Reading this article I was particularly glad to learn that there are other people out there who are in possession of a discriminative mind when it comes to the problems described.

Kalder writes:

“Thus if you visit the book’s [Ali & Nino] Wikipedia page you will see that some very helpful people have 1) declined to mention Reiss’s book [The Orientalist] even though it was a bestseller in several countries, 2) indulged in some character assassination aimed at Nussimbaum (which is nothing compared to the muck flung at him on his biographical entry), and 3) advanced the thesis that the “core author” is the “Azerbaijani writer and statesman” Yusif Vazir Chamanzaminli, apparently on the basis of DEEP textual analysis, although they admit that Essad Bey’s “fingerprints” are on the book – yucky! Of course, the refusal to name Reiss’s book on the Ali and Nino Wiki page is indicative of the extreme insecurity the invisible editors have regarding their claims.”

Below that article five reader’s comments can be found. I assert bluntly that four of them were written by the “invisible editors” of the Wikipedia manipulation, who is merely just one editor, namely Mrs. Betty Blair of Los Angeles, USA. No one else on the face of this earth promotes the idea of the Azeri authorship of “Ali & Nino” with more fierceness and quasi-religious fervor than her. She is also the one who tampered – and I guess, still tampers – with the relevant Wikipedia sites.

* * *

FORGET Wikipedia WHEN IT COMES TO “Essad Bey”, “Kurban Said”, “Chemenzeminli” and “Ali and Nino” in English, German, Azerbaijani and French!!!  Russian seemed quiet alright when I checked it by help of Google Translator, as it didn’t seem having been tampered with. But it needs to be double checked once again.

* * *

Betty Blair is the editor-in-chief, or perhaps, the owner, of the magazine Azerbaijan International, a quarterly journal, whose numbers 1 to 3 of 2011 consisted of one big issue, entitled “Ali and Nino – The Business of Literature” – and my review here is about that publication.

I feel the need and urge to reply to this publication because I believe that Betty Blair has gone too far, and that someone needs to speak-up. That’s why this review is written in a personal tone, not fearing polemics or even clear statements which may be sometimes regarded as blunt. Long since I started with this review (some 12 years ago) I have stopped writing against someone or some publication. But this one here is so annoying that I can’t help it. So bear with me.

Daniel Kalder continues in his Guardian article:

“In fact, these days when an author disappears it inspires in certain souls a mad detective hunt. Bitter wars erupt between scholars, and tremendous amounts of creative energy are wasted on quixotic pursuits of the author’s ‘true identity’.”

So I only can hope I have not “wasted my creative energy” but used it to set a few things straight – or that at least I was able to present a broadened outlook on statements given in Betty Blair’s unfortunate publication.

I feel the need and urge to reply to this publication because I believe that Betty Blair has gone too far, and that someone needs to speak-up. That’s why this review is written in a personal tone, not fearing polemics or even clear statements which may be sometimes regarded as blunt.

Daniel Kalder continues in his Guardian article:

“In fact, these days when an author disappears it inspires in certain souls a mad detective hunt. Bitter wars erupt between scholars, and tremendous amounts of creative energy are wasted on quixotic pursuits of the author’s ‘true identity’.”

So I have to say, that I hope I have not “wasted my creative energy” but used it to set a few things straight – or was at least able to present a broadened outlook on statements given in Betty Blair’s unfortunate – or should I say “infamous” publication.

The subject matter is complex and covers a vast ground. Years I have been spent in study and research as well as in constant reflective discussion with fellow researchers; and indeed it takes its own time to find one’s way through the jungle of facts related to the life of Lev Nussimbaum a.k.a. Essad Bey a.k.a Kurban Said – and everything around it. This is the main reason why the average reader being interested in the field might not enjoy that publication – neither this review here.

This is due to the reasons mentioned above and due to the fact that I as the reviewer address my text to those who have at least some insight into the problems around Ali & Nino. But I wish this text to be at least an eye-opener for anyone who wants to take the risk and read Betty Blair’s publication.

Kindly bear with the reviewer in regards of English grammar, orthography and punctuation. He is neither a native English speaker nor has he ever lived in an English speaking country. If you find typos, either keep them, or give him a friendly yell by e-mail.

And so I should like to close this foreword with the words Daniel Kalder concluded his article with:

“By all means, do enjoy reading Ali & Nino!”


In 2011, when this volume came out, “Azerbaijan International” was already in its 16th year of publication. Award winning (self-statement) and America-based, it used to appear four times yearly in Los Angeles and Baku. Editor Betty Blair created this “independent publication, which seeks to provide a forum for discussion and thought related to Azerbaijanis throughout the world”.

In that year, 2011, however, something was different. The magazine “Ali and Nino – The Business of Literature” alone forms three of the four yearly issues, consisting of impressing 364 pages, and it should really be called “a book”. And this I am going to call it from here on.

After this issue, the magazine “Azerbaijan International” ceased to appear altogether.


I have to give a disclaimer here. I call this text of mine a review. But the points to be criticized in Ali and Nino – The Business of Literature are so numerous that I can only touch upon a few of them. I picked them at random. Not commenting on other issues or statements does not mean that I agree. And the examples I picked for this review form in no way a hierarchy of “most important” – or the opposite.

The reason for this is simply that this book is – put quite frankly – a bottomless pit.

What follow here can be just A FEW examples. But even if they are few, they still give an idea about the deep flaws, the general make-up and quality of the reviewed work.

How I worked with this book

To begin with I ordered from L.A. two copies of the English magazine, plus a copy of the Azeri translation for my collection.

One of the ordered English copies I carefully took apart, so I could lay the printed pages flat on the A3 scanner – which I bought specially for this task.

By way of using Abby Finereader I was able to scan the hole book with the correct language recognition, and finally create a searchable PDF-A which I then was able to comb through by searching keywords.

Otherwise it is impossible to penetrate this book, as relevant info is sprinkled throughout.

Taking a first look

This big publication is American Letter Size format and weighs 1.3 kilo (just under 3 pounds).

It’s on the table in front of me. The paperback cover shows the portraits of four authors: Azeri writer and statesman Yusif Vezir Chemenzeminli*, Austrian Baroness Elfriede von Ehrenfels, Georgian writer Grigol Robakidse and Essad Bey. These four portraits are designed as interconnected pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. This is a clever allusion to the content of this work, because the whole issue is indeed quite puzzling.

Below the cover image I read the subtitle, which immediately makes me come to a halt: “Who wrote Azerbaijan’s most famous novel?”

This does not sound right, because “Ali & Nino” is certainly not “Azerbaijan’s most famous novel” but rather “the most famous novel in Azerbaijan” – or perhaps “the most famous novel playing in Azerbaijan”.

I must insist on this subtlety – why, will be shown further down.


I open the book and I’m overwhelmed and in awe. Images over images on these 364 pages – hundreds of them! – many of which I’d never seen before! Century-old postcards from Baku, maps, buildings, people, countless book covers. Some of these images are sensational, like a letter with an excerpt of Lev Nussimbaum’s birth certificate from the State Archive in Kiev – published for the first time ever.

BUT THEN I Began to read …

Already in the first minute I began to frown, thinking: “No, you can’t put it this way.”  “No, this is not precise.” Or: “No, there’s no proof for this statement, how can you present this as a given fact?”

This went on and on – no matter what I was reading.

So I tried another strategy:

I kept on reading, but took notes about each sentence containing errors, being incorrect or simply wrong. After one hour I had to give up. I had not even covered that whole page I had begun with an hour earlier – and I hadn’t even written down every necessary comment or correction.

There was no hope whatsoever to touch even the tip of the iceberg of all erroneous statements, insinuations – most of which were also slanderous, superfluous, and – pardon me – stupid.

Do not be discouraged by my stern and frank words here. I know it seems I’m overstretching my point, but do keep reading on, I will explain the best I can.

As I said, I had to stop my initial plan of commenting each single sentence which needed commenting. For a few weeks I felt at the end of my wits. Questions over questions formed in my mind. I couldn’t understand how the editor, who seems to be an experienced journalist with an enquiring mind, can be contented with carelessly throwing half-truths, assertions, insinuations and distortions at the readership of this book – a readership, which, out of necessity, can only be of the uninitiated kind.

No one who hasn’t studied the whole subject for at least a year – if not longer – with professional guidance (as I had the privilege) will have developed a sort-of “inner compass” that guides one through this vast field of Ali and Nino studies, as the available info about Essad Bey is immense.

So here follow a few examples of

Why It Just Ain’t So, Betty Blair!

Example 1

The usage of the terms “drug”, “drug dealer”, “hashish” and “pain”.

Betty Blair writes more than sixteen times in her book that “Giamil Vacca-Mazzara was a drug dealer” (pp. 39, 47, 92, 211) and that Essad Bey took hashish (pp. 47, 81, 92, 108, 133, 151) and morphine (p. 131, quoting someone else).

Uuuuuh – bad people! A drug dealer and a drug taker! WOW! Does this not shed a bad light on both Essas Bey and Giamil Vacca-Mazzara?

Well, if you’re as lucky as the proverbial blind chicken finding a grain once in a while, you may find in this huge publication the – only  two – instances which do justice to Essad Bey and Vacca-Mazzara: when it’s said WHY the latter provided the previous with drugs**: namely to kill the excruciating pain he was suffering from his disease (pp. 131 and 151). Further, in one other isolated paragraph on p. 131 Betty Blair explains why this was indeed necessary: because “during the war [morphine] would have been difficult to acquire.” And this quote is not Blair’s own observation but a reproduction of Essad Bey’s statement – however, formulated in a conditional form.

Essad Bey suffered from “Buerger-Syndrome“**, a disease of the blood vessels in the feet and legs, which let E.B.s foot rot on his living body, causing excruciating pain. World War II was in full go by that time and almost all available morphine was needed at the frontlines to treat wounded soldiers. As the story goes, the local pharmacist in Positano got tired to provide the penniless patient Essad Bey with this rare drug.

Now, who would deem it fair to label Giamil Vacca-Mazzara simply as a „drug dealer“? And call Essad Bey simply a “drug addict”? After all it was him, giving the sufferer a few painless hours here and there. IF this ever happened. There is no proof!

I find it most irritating that Blair knows these facts and yet does not hesitate to use a few details so selectively in order to slander Essad Bey. The ratio between 16 mentionings and only 2 clarifications – sprinkled over 363 pages – is too poor to be fair – or should I say “heartless”?

Example 2

Page 56, number 24.


“The story [A&N], undoubtedly, could not have been written with the same poignancy and pain had it been penned in 1936 – 16 years after the tragic events had occurred. Time anesthetizes and blurs the memory. The throbbing pain ceases. It only seems logical that the novel was written much earlier.”

A good writer can invoke ALL emotions in a reader. That E.B. was able to write “with the same poignancy and pain” was certified by award winning, most important German intellectual Navid Kermani. In his review about Essad Bey’s book “Allah is Great” (written together with Wolfgang von Weisl) which got published in the notable German weekly “Die Zeit”, Kermani mentions also Essad’s biography on the prophet Mohammed. I am quoting this here because Kermani gives witness to Essad Bey’s writing capabilities:

“… But above all Essad Bey was a brilliant, intoxicating stylist. He is writing a German that nowadays hardly exists among non-fiction writers, even less among experts on Islam. It has rhythm and uses harmonious imagery, is rich in semantic and syntactic variants and he understands so much of the arc of suspense, that this carries the author away from historical facts towards possible but not proven fiction. His biography on Mohammed […] has no place in academic libraries – but as reading matter one could not think of a more entertaining depiction, which, in addition, captures the spirit of the early Islamic history much better than any source-critical monography.”

In other words: Essad Bey was very well able to bring alive the time which was just two decades ago, in Ali & Nino. He has proven this with his biography on Mohammed in which he depicts a time which is more than fourteen hundred years ago.

Example 3

Treament of Essad Bey’s Novellas

In 1934 two novellas, or rather “pulp novels” appeared in the Polish series: “Co Tydzień Powieść” (“A new novel each week”, published in Łodz, Poland: Republic Publishing House).

They bear the titles “Miłosc i nafta” (Love and Petroleum), and “Manuela”.

Throughout the book, Blair frequently quotes Georgian scholar Dr. Zaza Aleksidze. He had had the chance to read the novels in their Russian translation (published by ISSC in Baku), so he was able to inform Blair about the novellas.

Dr. Zaza Aleksidze to Betty Blair: “Essad Bey’s fiction is simplistic and primitive when compared to Kurban Said’s masterpiece Ali and Nino”, (AI, page 162, Endnote 60).

Not surprising! After all, these two stories are just pulp novels, “penny dreadfuls”, “dime novels” – clearly proven by the fact that the two stories were written to fit into a line of pulp novels.

Yes, the style is not sophisticated, and it was never meant to be. But yet, the content of the two novels is far from being primitive. Essad Bey would not be Essad Bey if he hadn’t written about his major life themes: oil, the world of high finance, bolshevism, revolution. And so he did here. Essad Bey weaved world history together into two simple stories which indeed were written for cheap emotional effect and entertainment (which is usually the purpose of pulp novels), but, however contained real events.

To make a statement like “Essad Bey’s fiction is simplistic and primitive …” shows either the total lack of deeper knowledge and consideration, or the aim to suppress holistic information. But it clearly shows how Betty Blair uses each little sign to bend the truth to fit her purpose. And this purpose is “Essad Bey bashing” or, as the Daniel Kalder puts it in his article in The Guardian: “character assassination”.

Further Blair, who has NEVER read these stories herself and obviously speaks only one language (her native English) further comments on Essad Bey’s two pulp novels on page 313, right column:

“His protagonists are involved with the dark world of intrigue, seduction, blackmail and revenge in their quest to acquire big money and power.”

What does one expect of dime novels? But as mentioned above, the basic plot of these stories happened more or less like this in real life – and there they DID play in the dark world of intrigue and blackmail!††

These words here are used by Blair just for the sake to shed a dim light onto Essad Bey – using the same pulp fiction methods.

Example 4

Treatment of Hertha Pauli,  page 75, number 81 (and the respective endnotes)

Pauli, Herta E. (“Bertha” is wrong). “Letter to the Editor about Authorship of Ali and Nino,” in New York Times Book Review (August 8,1971), p. 27.

Mrs. Hertha Pauli (1911–1973) was Essad Bey’s literary agent during his time in Vienna. She and her business partner Karl Frucht were responsible for the deal with Zinnen-Verlag for “The Girl from the Golden Horn” and for many adventure stories they sold for E.B. to Austrian magazines.

On June 27, 1971, The New York Times published an article entitled: “The Last Word: Who Wrote ‘Ali and Nino’?” which follows the claims of Yusif Kahraman and Mustafa Türkekul, both of Washington D.C. That’s another story to be told somewhere else. But in short: The two exiled Azerbaijanis read the novel, recognized names, streets,  palaces, historical events, but had no clue who the author “Kurban Said” might possibly have been. They simply added one and one together and their result was “3”. They combined their half-knowledge about Yusif Vezir Chemenzeminli’s life and comparted it with the novel’s plot.
That’s how this unfortunate theory was born. After they’d written to Random House, the editors there informed the New York Times and Walter Clemons wrote the above mentioned article, following Kahraman’s and Türkekul’s theory.

But shortly after Walter Clemons’s article appeared in The New York Times, they received a letter by said Hertha Pauli, which was deemed important enough to be printed in The New York Times on August 8, 1971. This letter reads:

To the Editor:

May I add another word to Walter Clemons’s exciting “Last Word” (June 27) about the authorship of “Ali and Nino”? I just have to tell you that I read the novel at the time of its successful, first publication, 1937, in my native Vienna and talked to the author himself about it.

To my knowledge “Kurban Said” was Essad Bey, a colleague and friend of mine, whose nonfiction books were translated into many languages and can still be found at the New York Public Library.

I met Essad Bey in Vienna in 1933; he had come from Berlin, where the Nazis had taken over. He was then in his 30’s and looked somewhat like King Hussein without the mustache, and his wit and charm were most engaging. He joined a writers’ cooperative, “Austrian Correspondence,” I had organized to provide authors whose work was “undesirable” in the Third Reich with opportunities for publication elsewhere. Essad Bey was soon contributing numerous articles about the history and customs of his Transcaucasian homeland.

Essad came from a Transcaucasian Jewish family named Nussinbaum and took the name Essad Bey when he turned Moslem. He never made a secret of his ancestry; he spoke of it openly in his usual amusing fashion. This may have been why he wasn’t publicly attacked during those years of rising anti-Semitism in Vienna.

The biographical data you quote from the introduction to “Ali and Nino” corresponds exactly to what Essad told me. When his homeland Azerbaijan was taken over by the Soviets in the early twenties he went to Berlin and launched his career as a writer. (He told funny anecdotes about his learning to write in German and about his knowing Stalin when Stalin was still Djugashvili —”a highwayman.”)

At the Cafe Herrenhof in Vienna, where we met regularly, I also sometimes saw his old father, who seemed to me like an odd character of one of his son’s books.

Essad Bey stayed in Vienna till 1938, when he fled, like myself, because of the Anschluss. He went to Italy, where he would be safe, and died there soon after from elephantiasis.

“Ali and Nino,” his only novel, was the one book for which he used a pseudonym, because, he said, it was so different from his serious non-fiction. (Another reason may have been that as “Kurban Said” it could still be sold in the German market.)

The new, excellent English translation brings the German original vividly to my mind; I seem to hear Essad talking again in his particularly witty way, especially as the stage is set at the beginning of the book.

Bertha [sic] Pauli, Huntington, N. Y.

Walter Clemons replied:

Miss Pauli’s identification of “Kurban Said” as Essad Bey is reinforced by a letter to Random House from Alexander Brailow, who knew Essad Bey first as a schoolboy in Baku and later in Europe. Four of Essad Bey’s books were published in America in the early thirties: “Twelve Secrets of the Caucasus” (1931), and biographies of Stalin, Mohammed and Nicholas II.

Now to Blair’s treatment of this subject matter in her book.

On page 75, right column, and the two preceding lines, read like this:

She prefaced her remarks in the Times with the caveat: “To my knowledge,” before adding her personal opinion that Essad Bey was Kurban Said. […] “to my knowledge” makes her statement conditional, as if she were hesitating to make an absolutely conclusive statement equating Essad Bey with Kurban Said.

Since late Mrs. Pauli cannot defend herself and make her statement more precise, I will have to do it for her. Again, Blair would not miss the opportunity to drive her axe into this tiny cleft – or what she wants to be one. Unfortunately she forgets the fact of the language barrier. The subtleties of a foreign language (English, in this case) cannot be learned fully by an adult. Hertha Pauli was an adult when she arrived in the USA. If Blair spoke any foreign language (which she doesn’t) she would know about this.

Hertha Pauli’s native tongue was German, and in our language is it perfectly alright to use this phrase without losing credibility – she says nothing but: “It is my knowledge that Kurban Said was Essad Bey.” It is a polite, unintrusive way of speaking.

And what about the heavy content in the rest of the letter? No, Blair is just hovering upon three words in a half-sentence. But do not be mistaken by Hertha Pauli’s conscientious and polite way of speaking. After all this is to be preferred over the insinuative, unconstructive manner and the suspecting criticism in which Blair’s whole volume is written as a whole.

What really strikes me here: Where Hertha Pauli uses the polite phrase “to my knowledge” – after confirming in the sentence before, that she has talked to the author himself about this book, Blair, in the rest of her book, speaks always with full authority about things he has no proof for.

And some proof against her theories are being suppressed by Betty Blair herself: When The New York Times printed Hertha Pauli’s letter, which was a reply to Walter Clemons’ article, the latter added to Hertha Pauli’s letter – as already quoted above:

Miss Pauli’s identification of “Kurban Said” as Essad Bey is reinforced by a letter to Random House from Alexander Brailow, who knew Essad Bey first as a schoolboy in Baku and later in Europe. Four of Essad Bey’s books were published in America in the early thirties: “Twelve Secrets of the Caucasus” (1931), and biographies of Stalin, Mohammed and Nicholas II.

This reply is printed right under Pauli’s letter in the New York Times. It was suppressed by Blair in her publication! So is Alexander Brailow, Essad Beys classmate in their Berlin years!

Example 5

Flowchart on double page 162–63

The flow chart on the double page shows books by Essad Bey in the sequence of their published date.

It is headed by this insinuative question: “Did he really write all those books published under his name?

Most of the displayed book covers have BBs comments, and here follows some comments of mine on those comments.

  1. a)  A New York Times review of 1932 about “Stalin”: “A dangerous book …. the average reader… may be misled.”

At that point in time Essad Bey was the first one to fully understand fully Stalin’s regime and impact on the world. Most of his contemporaries – even intelligent papers like The New York Times, still believed in the good revolutionary spirit of Stalin – a disastrous misconception. Essad Bey was the first warner – unheard, unfortunately.

  1. b) “Liquid Gold”: “Many passages are unlike Essad Bey’s style.”

I don’t know which edition Blair has read. It does not exist in English, so how could Blair judge this book? I have read the German original twice, and, being an editor, publisher and writer myself, I declare, that the whole book is typically Essad Bey.

  1. c) “Love and Oil”: “How is it that E.B. knew the geography of Atchara in Blood and Oil” but not here in “Love and Oil”?

Well, “Love and Petroleum” (which would be the correct translation) and along with it “Manuela” were intended from the beginning to be nothing more than pulp novels. And this is all that needs to be said.

  1. d) “Caucasus”   –  “… written by an Armenian point of view…”

So what? This only proves that Essad Bey transcended his nationality and upbringing and that he was not a nationalist – unlike the influence behind the magazine Azerbaijan International. But with my previous sentence I am not agreeing with Betty Blair and her “Armenian accusation”. I’m just saying “so what” – in the sense of “what if”?

Example 6

Leela Ehrenfels’ E-Mails on pages 119–120

There is a gross mistake in Footnote 236 on page 119/20, Leela Ehrenfels’ e-mail messages to Betty Blair:

“I was about eight years old at the time. One day Vacca came to visit my parents in Neckargemuend (near Heidelberg, Germany), where we were living at the time. Vacca introduced himself: ‘Kurban Said: C’est moi (Kurban Said, it’s me!). My mother [Baron Ehrenfels’ wife Mirielle] didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. Maybe my father didn’t either, as he was very ill at the time.”

Leela Ehrenfels, e-mail message to author, January 28, 2005.

Leela later added:

“I think my mother gradually understood that  Mazzara—that’s what she called him—was very, very strange. She had no idea who he was when he suddenly appeared on the doorstep.”

Ehrenfels, e-mail message to author, January 1, 2008.

Leela Ehrenfels’ statements in these quoted e-mails correlate with what her mother said in the interview for Jos de Putter’s film „Alias Kurban Said“ which had taken place in  2001 or 2002, and in which Leela also appears.

However, the truth is quite different:

  1. Giamil didn’t just appear out of the blue at the doorstep of the Ehrenfels home.
  2. When he appeared, he didn’t say: „Kurban Said, c’est moi.“
  3. When Leela claims that both her parents didn’t know what Giamil was talking about, the actual truth is that SHE HERSELF doesn’t know what she is talking about.

Why is this so?

I am in the possession of many letters written by Leela’s mother Mireille to a gentleman in the Netherlands. The most important letter is from 10 February 1991. In it she describes clearly what had happened: Giamil and Umar Ehrenfels had exchanged letters before, and at one point …

“We had invited him to come to visit us in Neckargemünd and he came for a few days with three of his four children … Certainly he considered himself to be a “close and dear friend” of Essad-Bey … he spoke of his …“beloved Muslim friend”, his “dear brother in Islam”.


Before his coming to Neckargemünd, Mazzara had been eager to speak about “his friend”, he knew about the efforts of my husband to bring Essad to India, …


All I know is that Jenia [Graman] got once a telegram from Mazzara saying that HE was Kurban Said!  […]

This shows Leela Ehrenfels’ ignorance in all these matters which had taken place during her childhood and youth, where it was definitely she herself who was too ill to participate in any of this. I know about her terrible condition and I pray for her well-being. I feel for her deeply. But she cannot possible be credited with any sort of neutral opinion of the matter at hand.

To be sure:

  • Giamil came to the Ehrenfels’s home in Neckargemünd upon invitation, because he and Umar Rolf had exchanged letters before. One of these letters is publicly known.
  • Giamil uttered his claim “Kurban Said, c’est moi” (“Kurban Said, that’s me”) not to the Ehrenfels’s “upon his unexpected arrival” –  but in a telegram sent to Jenia Graman (the translator of A&N into English). Mireille states this in her letter of 1991.
  • When she gave the interview for Jos de Putter’s film some 10 years later, her tale sounded much different. I don’t blame her, it happens to all of us. She was aging, her memory had obviously become tainted, mixing up all the many details. And it is THAT which Leela remembered and shared in her e-mail to Betty Blair.
  • Leelas father Umar Rolf von Ehrenfels knew very well what Giamil was talking about. And the truth is that Giamil, Umar Rolf and Mireille had intense conversations together.

In other words, Leela’s e-mails here are totally worthless. Betty Blair is building her character assassination of Giamil on sand. This happens when one doesn’t have the most important facts.

Just ignore it.

* * *

On the Azerbaijan International website one can find the opinions of different people from around the world. They are all full of praise. They are blinded by the wealth of words and images in this work.

Blair herself claims that her book is “scholarly” – repeating incoming praise. But there is one little four-letter-word which destroys this illusion. And this word is “bias”.

No scientific work must be biased. But if one book in the world is biased, it’s this one.

* * *

For the time being my review has to be concluded here. However, one day I might expand this text.

Hans-Jürgen Maurer


* I’m using my own spelling here. The Azerbaijanis want to have their letter ə transliterated as a. But that produces a totally different sound. Spelling his name here with e is much closer to the original pronunciation, just like the German letter ä. But definitely NOT spelled with an a!

** Actually this is a detail in Essad’s life that’s not even proven. Where this notion came from is another story to be told separately.

*** More about this disease on Wikipedia.

† Navid Kermani: „Krieg führen, Koran lesen, beten“, DIE ZEIT, 51/2002.

†† On one can find my essay about these two pulp novels, namely which incidents in world history Essad Bey used for his stories.