Religious scholar and New York Times bestselling author Reza Aslan shares the details of his new book in an Entertainment Weekly Exclusive. The upcoming Baskerville will tell the story of the American citizen who gave his life fighting for Iranian freedom.
Reza Aslan’s latest book centers around Howard Conklin Baskerville, the only American citizen to have died fighting for democracy in Iran. While he is an incredibly well-known figure in Iran, recognized as a martyr for freedom, Baskerville and his story remain virtually unknown in America.
The Nebraska-born, Princeton-educated Baskerville was a Prebyterian missionary who traveled to Iran in 1907, where he taught English at the American Memorial School in Tabriz. During the Constitutional Revolution of Iran, he organized a volunteer force to defend the country’s democracy. He was shot and killed.
“This argument about what it means to be American, what it means to be Christian—I think the model that Baskerville [gave] us more than 100 years ago is as relevant today as it’s ever been,” Aslan told Entertainment Weekly. “And here we are, in the midst of an escalating conflict between Iran and the United States. As an Iranian American, I know, better than most, how devastating such a conflict could be—how much Iran and America have in common with each other. To see that from the perspective of this young American Christian, who was seen as a hero in Iran, once again, I think gives us a different perspective on this long and complicated relationship between these two countries, and maybe even an alternative model for a future relationship, one based not on violence and conflict and angry rhetoric, but on sort of a mutual understanding of each other’s humanity.”
Entertainment Weekly reports that the book, which will be published by W.W. Norton & Company, has also been optioned by Lionsgate for a film adaptation.
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