Tuesday, July 30, 2013

No Such Thing As Bad Publicity

Reza Aslan is raking it in after the mega-cringe-inducing interview on Fox News.

Since then, the Buzzfeed page featuring the video has been viewed nearly four million times. Mr. Aslan quickly amassed an additional 5,000 Twitter followers. On Monday, Random House, Mr. Aslan’s publisher, said the interview had clearly helped book sales: in two days, sales increased 35 percent.

On Friday, “Zealot” was in the No. 8 spot on Amazon.com, the nation’s biggest seller of books; by Sunday, it had hit No. 1.

Random House is rushing to meet the surge in demand for the book. On Monday, the publisher ordered 50,000 copies, bringing the total to 150,000 copies in print by the end of the week.

An investigation of the historical Jesus, “Zealot” has been praised by many reviewers since its publication on July 16. In a review in Tablet magazine, Adam Kirsch called “Zealot” a “coherent and often convincing portrait of who Jesus was and what he wanted.”

But some conservative critics have suggested that the book is not a work of scholarship, but merely “an educated Muslim’s opinions about Jesus and the ancient Near East,” as John S. Dickerson, an opinion columnist, wrote on FoxNews.com last week.


Mr. Aslan said that after reading Mr. Dickerson’s essay on FoxNews.com, he was prepared for a similar line of attack from Ms. Green.

He was so eager to promote the book on Fox News that his publisher tried — in vain — to secure an interview spot on “Fox & Friends,” a morning show.

“I’ll be perfectly honest — I’m thrilled at the response that people have had to the interview,” Mr. Aslan said. “You can’t buy this kind of publicity.”

Mr. Aslan should send Ms. Green a plate of baklava.

3 barks and woofs on “No Such Thing As Bad Publicity

  1. I do lurve Reichwing criticisms of scholarship. “[A]n educated [insert member of recognizable group]’s opinions about [insert research object defensible relevant to, but of not immediate apparent interest to, said recognizable group]” is a construct that can be used to belittle any subject’s interest in any object – yet is essentially the description of any scholar’s work on any subject whatever. I’m sure the Vatican had something similar to say about Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, or the Continental Congress’ various documents spelling out the various inalienable rights and self-evident truths.

  2. Afterthought: Mr. (Dr.?) Aslan should send Ms. Green a copy of the complete Chronicles of Narnia as well. There’s another Aslan she obviously needs to meet.

  3. Mr Aslan (yes he is a scholar, but most serious ones don’t use the honorific) was interviewed by Terry Gross. I hated to arrive at our garage and have to turn off the ignition and the radio, his research and conclusions were so fascinating. As a non-believer I found the description of Jesus and the Apostles as “country boys” who couldn’t read and were barefooted hicks simply wonderful. It made the story even more seductive.

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