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Osama boost for US author

In his latest audiotape warning attacks, Laden also asks Americans to read Blum's tome, writes S Rajagopalan.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2006 01:40 IST

Osama bin Laden has done a good turn to at least one American. Historian William Blum's obscure book of 2000 has shot overnight into the bestseller charts, thanks to an unexpected endorsement from the Al Qaeda chief.

In his latest audiotape warning President George W. Bush of renewed terror strikes, bin Laden also asks Americans to read Blum's tome attacking US foreign policy — Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower.

Bin Laden may be the most reviled figure in the US, but Americans would just not ignore him. By Saturday, two days after the tape was out, Blum's book had been catapulted to No. 27 on the Amazon bestsellers list — from No. 205,763.

A former State Department staffer, Blum quit his post in 1967 because of his opposition to the Vietnam war and has remained a compulsive critic of Washington's foreign policy down the years.

The 72-year-old Blum is relishing every moment of this new lease of life for his book, written in 2000 and updated last November. "This is almost as good as being an Oprah book. I'm glad," he said in media interviews.

No, he's not embarrassed one bit by the Osama endorsement. "I'm not repulsed, and I'm not going to pretend I am," he said, stressing the point of his treatise that American interventions abroad only create enemies.

Bin Laden even quoted Blum as saying: "If I were president, I would stop the attacks on the United States: First, I would give an apology to all the widows and orphans and those who were tortured. Then I would announce that American interference in the nations of the world has ended once and for all."

They were Blum's lines all right, but from another Blum book — Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire.

First Published: Jan 23, 2006 01:40 IST