9781556436819

Alamut

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781556436819

  • ISBN10:

    1556436815

  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2007-11-20
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books
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Summary

Alamuttakes place in 11th Century Persia, in the fortress of Alamut, where self-proclaimed prophet Hasan ibn Sabbah is setting up his mad but brilliant plan to rule the region with a handful elite fighters who are to become his "living daggers." By creating a virtual paradise at Alamut, filled with beautiful women, lush gardens, wine and hashish, Sabbah is able to convince his young fighters that they can reach paradise if they follow his commands. With parallels to Osama bin Laden, Alamut tells the story of how Sabbah was able to instill fear into the ruling class by creating a small army of devotees who were willing to kill, and be killed, in order to achieve paradise. Believing in the supreme Ismaili motto "Nothing is true, everything in permitted," Sabbah wanted to "experiment" with how far he could manipulate religious devotion for his own political gain through appealing to what he called the stupidity and gullibility of people and their passion for pleasure and selfish desires. The novel focuses on Sabbah as he unveils his plan to his inner circle, and on two of his young followers the beautiful slave girl Halima, who has come to Alamut to join Sabbah's paradise on earth, and young ibn Tahir, Sabbah's most gifted fighter. As both Halima and ibn Tahir become disillusioned with Sabbah's vision, their lives take unexpected turns. These are winning characters, who we look forward to following and understanding. Both revered for his brilliance and disdained for the reign of terror he spawned with his suicide missions, Sabbah has inspired scores of writers and artists throughout the centuries, including Rimbaud, Nerval, Borges, and William Burroughs. Based on the facts and myths surrounding Sabbah and his band of "assassins,"Alamutwas originally written in 1938 as an allegory to Mussolini's fascist state. In the 1960's it became a cult favorite throughout Tito's Yugoslavia, and in the 1990s, during the Balkan's War, it was read as an allegory of the region's strife and became a bestseller in Germany, France and Spain. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the book once again took on a new life, selling more than 20,000 copies in a new Slovenian edition, and being translated around the world in more than 19 languages. This edition, translated by Michael Biggins, in the first-ever English translation. Bartol examines in a stirring dramatic narrative, with appealing male and female characters, dogmatic ideologies that defy common sense and promise the kingdom of God in exchange for one's life or one's freedom to judge and make choices. Comp titles: Dan Brown mentions Hasan ibn Sabbah inAngels and Demons; Bernard Lewis's scholarly study is of Sabbah, and the other assassins in similar groups; Orhan Pamuk is a current Turkish novelist who not only won the Nobel prize but opened his country to a huge readership; Leo Africanus is a historical novel of the Muslim world at the time of Columbus.

Author Biography

Vladimir Bartol (1903 — 1967) was a Slovene intellect and journalist living in the Trieste region of Italy prior to World War II. An early follower of Jung and Freud, and Slovenia's first translator of Nietzsche, Bartol wanted to fuse psychology and literature to with the story of the world's first terrorist to tell the story of Mussolini. Bartol's view of Mussolini was ambiguous; he originally wanted to dedicate Alamut to the dictator, but was convinced otherwise by his publisher. Bartol spent nearly a decade writing Alamut, which was the first book of a projected trilogy. He went on to write several minor works, short stories and plays, but never wrote another novel. He died in 1967.

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