Since the al-Qaida leader mentioned Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower in his tape on Thursday, William Blum’s book has gone from 205,763 on the Amazon.com list of bestsellers to number 27 on Saturday.
As he fought off media attention, Blum, 72, who lives in a one-room apartment in the US capital, told US media he had no regrets about the boost from bin Laden and had not received any threats.
“This is almost as good as being an Oprah book,” he told The Washington Post, referring to the successful book club run by American television media celebrity Oprah Winfrey.
“I was not turned off by the endorsement,” he told a New York radio station. “I am not repulsed and I am not going to pretend I am.”
Terrorism and political experts started scrambling for reference books after bin Laden said in his message: “If Bush carries on with his lies and oppression, it would be useful for you to read Rogue State.”
Bin Laden then went on to quote from Blum’s book which says that if the writer were the US president, he would “give an apology to all the widows and orphans and all those who were tortured. Then I would announce that American interference in the nations of the world has ended once and for all.”
“I am not repulsed and I am not going to pretend I am”
Blum said that up to Thursday Rogue State and his other book Killing Hope had sold about 150,000 copies in English and other languages.
His publisher, Common Courage Press, could not give an estimate of the boost given by bin Laden’s reference.
Foreign policy problems
Blum has made it clear that there was no justification for the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington, but that they were “an understandable retaliation against US foreign policy”.
The son of Polish immigrants, Blum worked at the State Department in the 1960s, but the Vietnam war turned him against US foreign policy, and he quit to help found an underground newspaper, the Washington Free Press.
Though Rogue State may not be to the taste of President George Bush’s administration, it has many fans in academia.
Peter Dale Scott, an author and former professor at the University of California at Berkeley, said: “Critics will call this a one-sided book. But it is an invaluable corrective to the establishment portrait of America as the world’s greatest force for peace.”