Aleksandr Faingar was born in 1908 in Derbent (Dagestan, southern Russia, close to the border with Azerbaijan). His father was a watch repairer. In 1918, against the background of armed confrontations between Armenians and Azeris and fearing an anti-Jewish pogrom, the family moved to Astrakhan, southern Russia, where Aleksandr worked as a courier for the local CheKa (the Soviet secret political police, the precursor of the KGB). In 1920, the CheKa sent him to Baku, Azerbaijan to working with the local political police. In 1922, Aleksandr was dismissed from the CheKa for being underage and sent to a school to continue his studies (according to his own account, at a professional school for transport workers). At this school where he took on the nickname Khamadan (the name of a Persian city, where, according to legend, there operated some "just robbers" like Robin Hood). Later, Khamadan became Aleksandr's penname.
In the 1925, Aleksandr went to Germany, where his elder brother, Matvei Faingar, a professor of chemistry, was serving with a Soviet trade mission. In 1926, when Aleksandr took the podium to speak at a workers rally, he was arrested by the police, severely beaten, and deported from Germany. Upon returning to the Soviet Union, he was sent to a naval school, but was dismissed by the medical commission as unfit for the navy – after being beating by the German police, Aleksandr became color-blind. However, his color-blindness did not prevent his being sent to Central Asia, to fight against the Basmachi (participants in the Muslim revolt against the Soviet regime in the 1920s and early 1930s). Aleksandr became chairman of the trade union council in the Panjikent Region.
There he began to work as a journalist under the penname Khamadan. After recovering from typhus and an operation for appendicitis, Aleksandr left Central Asia and, between 1930 and 1932 he headed the information bureau of the Soviet consulate in Harbin. From 1932 to 1937 he worked in Moscow as deputy head of the foreign department of the newspaper Pravda. While working in this capacity, Khamadan visited the USA, Italy, and other countries. Between 1936 and 1940, he published a number of books. Among them were American Silhouettes, Japan on the Way to a Big War, Leaders and Heroes of the Chinese People (which included the first Russian-language biography of Mao Zedong). In December 1937, Khamadan's elder brother Matvei Faingar was arrested by the NKVD and was executed in March 1938. However, this did not put an end to Khamadan's work as a loyal Soviet journalist.
With the beginning of the Soviet-German war in June 1941, Khamadan volunteered for the Red Army. However, he was soon dismissed from active service but continued to serve as a front-line correspondent for the Soviet news agency TASS. He sent reports from sieged Odessa and Leningrad, from partisan units, and other places. In 1942, Khamadan was sent to Sevastopol, which at this time was under siege. From this sea harbor city, he sent dozens of reports on its desperate defense. In July 1942, Sevastopol was abandoned by the Soviet forces. Thousands of people were eager to be evacuated from the city, but there were not enough places for everyone. As a prominent journalist and a valuable specialist on the Far East, Kamadan received a permit to board one of the last planes. However, he gave his ticket, according to some accounts, to a wounded soldier, according to other accounts – to a woman, and remained in the doomed city. He took part in the last battles near the Cape of Khersones. After the collapse of this last defense, Khamadan was one of the thousands of Soviet POWs captured by the Germans.
In German captivity, Khamadan concealed his Jewish identity, as well as the fact that he was a Soviet journalist. He had himself recorded as the soldier Aleksandr Mikhailov. While in a German POW camp, he established contact with Soviet partisans in the mountains, from whom he received and disseminated among his fellow prisoners news about the war and even Soviet newspapers. Someone revealed his identity to the Germans in the spring of 1943. Camp physicians who were also Soviet POWs attempted to save him by putting him in the contagious ward in the camp hospital in the hope that the Germans would stay away from him. However, the Gestapo men took Khamadan away. While awaiting interrogation, he took poison. According to one account, the Gestapo men shot the dying Khamadan at the 10th station of the Balaklava Road.
In June 1943, an article on Khamadan was sent to the Yiddish newspaper Eynikayt. At that time, the author of the article did not know how Khamadan had died.