'Glenn Beck': Beck's Book Club

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," March 30, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: Back with me are three bestselling authors who happen to be three best friends: Joshua Cooper Ramo, Ben Sherwood and Bruce Feiler. They are the authors of — I'm telling you, America, buy these three books together. Read this one first, then this one, and then this one.

BEN SHERWOOD: Wait a minute. Come on, Glenn!


BECK: I'm just saying. I'm just saying. This one will tell you, the world is changing and you have to think the unthinkable thing. This will show you — you can survive. It will show you how to survive, who the survivors are and what do they have in common. And this one, really the jump off of this directly — one thing they have in common: God, faith. This one shows the faith of America at critical times. And the three of them — the authors never put them together until I finally read this one and you said, oh, I'm friends — we're best friends. Oh, my gosh! It's incredible. It really is. The problem: the way to survive and the ultimate solution. So, Joshua, you are fascinating to me because you were — weren't you the European editor for...


BECK: OK. So, you are the foreign editor of Time magazine and you decide really the place that's really going to come on strong is China. You're seeing that in advance.

RAMO: Yes.

BECK: You teach yourself Mandarin Chinese, right?

RAMO: Yes. I had a teacher, but yes.

BECK: Well.


BECK: I don't even know how to sound that one out.

RAMO: A very slow process. Even for me.

BECK: So, you go and you immerse yourself over in China. Now, you're meeting with the highest levels of the leaders over in China, right?

RAMO: Yes.

BECK: First of all, are you now or have you ever been member of Communist Party?


BECK: You are over there, you're meeting with them. You and I had a conversation that talked about China in a different way than I've ever heard before. Everybody here thinks: Oh, China, they'll never get rid of your debt. For a completely different reason, you and I both agree that China is — doesn't want us to fail because they need us for a different reason. They don't want instability...

RAMO: That's right.

BECK: ...just like I fear the instability here. If you put riots in the streets in this country — everything changes.

RAMO: Right.

BECK: You say that affects China as well. Why?

RAMO: Absolutely. Well, there are a couple of things. First of all, just in pure economic terms, obviously, China has done an amazing thing. It's lifted 400 million people out of poverty in the last 30 years, which just by any historic standard...

BECK: I just — I just have to remind you, they did kill 80 million people.

RAMO: Well, actually, in fact, probably over that. If you look at the course of time running from the Opium Wars, which were 170 years ago, even more violent than that.

BECK: Right.

RAMO: So, I think that's exactly right. That ability to snap back gives you a sense of how dramatic the shift has been in China over the last 30 years. Having that, they still have 300 million or 400 million people living on less than $2 a day. And they are aware of that history that you've just described and therefore very nervous about instability.

BECK: Well, didn't they — when they were getting ready for the Beijing Olympics — didn't they take people right out of the fields and rice paddies, bring them to Beijing, put them on bamboo scaffolding, and say here, build this building? They did. I can't imagine going from the rice paddies to seeing telephones, seeing airplanes, seeing giant buildings, the skyscrapers — and then the government said, OK, everybody back.

RAMO: Well, actually, the second part is not right. Then they found other jobs for people.

BECK: They did.

RAMO: I mean, one of the interesting things about China is, there's been this huge problem in China which is you can't raise people's income if they stay on the land working as farmers. And so, they tried that. There was a very aggressive series of policies about a decade ago to do this. It didn't work. So, you've got to move people to cities. So, China is going to urbanize 300 million people over the next 15 years. And when you talk about things that could potentially cause the instability, right, urbanization, you start packing people into the city.

BECK: And because — and because they have a one child policy and girls are not as good as boys, you've got a lot of men in the population that don't have any chance of getting married.

RAMO: That's right. So, the demographic challenges are also — are also a mess. So, I think that's, internally, the Chinese — precisely because of the history you've just described — are very aware of the risk of instability. Much more, I think, given that, than we are in the United States.

BECK: Where do you think we're headed? I was just talking to somebody and they said, I think we're headed for a world where the China model is the dominant model. Well, that doesn't sound good if you're an American.

RAMO: Well, I think a lot of it depends on how you construe — I think the lesson of the world is that an American model, what we used to call the Washington consensus model, and we had this idea surfaced in '90s that as long as you open McDonald's and Disneyland everywhere, everybody was going to be like us — that's not the case.


RAMO: It turns out, incredibly enough, you can live in Iran and have a cell phone and lipstick and like Britney Spears and still want nuclear weapons, right?


RAMO: I think they're not mutually exclusive.


BECK: So, the Big Mac doesn't — is not enough.

RAMO: No. No. The whopper with cheese, if there is a special on fries...


BECK: Disarm!

RAMO: Yes, chemical weapons. But, what we're entering into is a world that's much more complex than we imagine. The idea that globalization would just sort of make everybody happy and if you were living in Tashkent, you feel like you're living in Cleveland is clearly wrong. So, we're dealing with a much more complicated global landscape. I think that creates a sense of urgency in a place like Beijing. I mean, the most shocking thing for me as somebody who lives between Beijing and the United States is when you come back here, there's almost no sense of urgency. And there's very few places here where you find people...

BECK: Used to be...

RAMO: ...feeling that. Yes. And I'll tell you, in Beijing, it's — Beijing is such an exciting city right now. The intellectual life in Beijing is just electric, with people trying to figure out how they're going to manage this tremendous project forward — and they're thinking the unthinkable.

BECK: See, we're — we seem to just be — survivors don't do this. They — we seem to just be holding on, just hold on, just hold. Don't let it collapse, just hold on. Survivors say, let the damn thing collapse. Let's go, because that's the exit or that's the way out, or that's the way to the future. We seem to be hanging onto stuff. Does anybody survive just doing this?

BEN SHERWOOD, "THE SURVIVORS CLUB" AUTHOR: Some people survive just doing that. But it's not a great strategy, because what you need is you need to take action and you need to have a plan A and you need to have a plan B. So, this applies when your 401(k) is crashing or when your plane is crashing or when you're way behind on your mortgage. People who don't want to face reality just sort of keep going through the motions. They do something known as "milling" in disaster situations. They kind of look around and see, is anything bad happening? Gather some information. But they don't take action. And what Joshua is describing that's happening in China, that sense of urgency. People survive when they feel urgency and they move toward plan A, and if plan A fails, they take plan B. Urgency is sort of an incredibly important part of survival. People who survive all kinds of challenges feel the urgency and it's people who just want to — want things to stay the way they are.

BECK: I have a minute here and I want to come to you next, Bruce, and talk a little bit about God. But, Joshua says there's no urgency here. I think that's — I think that's true. We’ve changed as a culture. Is there a way for culture to be reinvigorated with that sense of urgency?

SHERWOOD: Typically, it takes a person in a position of authority — literally a flight attendant, literally Captain Sullenberger, literally a person of power, to tell the 80 percent of us who don't know what to do, who are bewildered, in a stupor, waiting for someone to tell us which way do we go, it takes a person or a group of people, 10 percent of us. 10 percent of us know what to do. 80 percent of us don't, and then 10 percent of us do the wrong thing. It needs a group of leaders.

BECK: You know, it's fascinating that you, I mean, Bruce, I think you've been very fair to Ben, and he uses George Washington and Sullenberger, but he doesn't use Moses...




BECK: If you are somebody that watches this program every night at 5:00, first of all, thank you for that. But people ask me all the time, you know, "What should I read? Where should I look? How can I improve myself? How can I figure things out?"

These three steps. I swear to you, this is the best way to start. These books influenced me in the last year. And I didn't know they were written by best friends until a few weeks ago. "The Age of the Unthinkable," which I talked to you about a year ago.

About eight months ago, I talked to you about "The Survivor's Club," and then "America's Prophet." It is think-out-of-the-box, how to survive and the importance of God. It's amazing, because it's step one, step two, step three on everything we've talked about on this program.

But I want to go to Bruce who has written "America's Prophet" and talk to you about the one thing — and I've used on the show several times. I don't know if you've seen it, but I've used on the show several times.

A couple weeks ago, I used it at CPAC about the Statue of Liberty. Tell quickly the story of what most people don't understand about the Statue of Liberty.

BRUCE FEILER, AUTHOR, "AMERICA'S PROPHET": Well, I think, to put this into context, the story of "America's Prophet" is that one story, the Exodus and the story of Moses inspired generation after generation of Americans.

And it comes up in the great symbols of America. What are the great symbols of America? The Liberty Bell. There's a quote from Moses on the side of the Liberty Bell, "Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof."

The seal. On July 4th, 1776, as you know, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Ben Franklin were asked to come up with a seal. Six weeks later, they proposed that the seal be Moses leading the Israelites across the Red Sea.

One hundred years later to maybe the defining symbol of America, the Statue of Liberty. The French wanted to pay a tribute to the martyred president and to the American journey of liberty by building a Statue of Liberty.

And Frederic Bartholdi picked the Roman goddess of liberty as his model. But he imported two symbols from Moses to bring her to life. Number one, the spikes of life around her head. Number two, the tablet in her arms. Both of which are from the moment that Moses comes down Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments.

OK. So the heart of the Moses story is the tension between freedom and law, between Moses, who leads the Israelites out of slavery. They cross the Red Sea. That's a moment of great exhilaration at which point chaos follows, at which point the commandments are delivered.

The message here is freedom depends on law. The two are in touch. If you look at the statue, at the base of her feet are the broken shackles and in her arms are the tablets.

And so what was — that message is what was at the heart of the story. All of those millions — tens of millions of immigrants who failed underneath the Statue of Liberty. They look up and they saw this familiar beacon that said, "This is the new promised land."

Now, the promised land — this is a point that you made so passionately at CPAC that got the people — you may be too modest to say it — but people standing on their feet cheering for this point that you made at CPAC. The promised land only works if there is a hard time behind it, OK, if you're leaving Egypt behind, if you're leaving the desert.

Open your bible tonight. The opening sentence of the book of Exodus talks about the Israelites moaning under slavery. That is an uncomfortable bad place. They want to escape to go to the promised land. And this is the point that you've sung across America last few months.

They were leaving Europe. They were leaving something old and they were coming to the new. And so that is the symbol of the promised land. And that, I think, is another thing that we all have in common here, which is, step number one, imagine a promised land. If you can't imagine a better place, to come out of the uncomfortable, oppressed place, you're never going to make it to a better place.

BECK: Now, here's the thing that he wrote about and we talked about it. He said, "I didn't really actually see it that way, but...

FEILER: My wife refers to you...

BECK: The famous poem, "Give me your tired, your poor..."


"...your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." That is always read tenderly. And as I'm reading your understanding of the Statue of Liberty, I realize that would be more like, "Oh, Europe, I feel so bad for you. Send all your riffraff over here because you will never make it with that anger around your neck. We will take the tired, your poor, and your huddled masses."

But it's not. It was more of a challenge back to Europe, saying, "We'll make it with the worst of the worst." I want to give you just a piece of what happened at CPAC, based really on this book. Watch.


BECK: The Statue of Liberty was used to ignite, incite the French, liberty. Look at America. Look at what they're doing. It was meant to be read like this, "Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land. Here at our sea-washed sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is imprisoned lightning and her name Mother of Exiles."

"From her beacon hand glows worldwide welcome. Her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor the twin cities frame. 'Keep your ancient lands, your storied pomp,' cries she with silent lips. 'Give me — give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse from your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tossed to me. I hold — I hold my lamp beside the golden door.'"


That is the message. Even the people you reject can make it here. They will give it all to be successful here. You can make it here.


BECK: Is that what you think is intended?

FEILER: If you look across the Hebrew Bible, the greatest moments of spiritual breakthrough occur in moments of exile. Abraham leaving the promised land, Israelites going off to Babylon. And the greatest of all, when Moses leads Israelites out of slavery into the desert.

And only one moment, Glenn, in the entire Hebrew Bible, does God come down to land, and that is to the top of Mount Sinai to give the law to Moses. And that cements this holy relationship among the people, the land and God. That's at the heart of the Moses story and that's at the heart of the American story. And that's at the heart of the Statue of Liberty.

BECK: OK. What do you say we pack the tax code and we put it in trunk of our car and everybody heads to Canada tonight. Let's go. Back in a minute.


BECK: Back again, best-selling authors, best friends and best-selling authors of three great books. Joshua Cooper Ramo, Ben Sherwood and Bruce Feiler with us now.

RAMO: Glenn, I've got a question. I mean, we've been sitting here talking. You very nicely draw on this link between our books which we ourselves had not seen.

But as I've listened to you, I've also been thinking, I think one of the reasons we've come to rely on each other as friends is we're all trying to think outside the box. And that is — frankly, it's psychologically exhausting.

Everybody's telling you, you're crazy. You're trying to do something different. Every other book you pick up is telling you everything is fine. I just want to — do you have an equivalent — kind of council of people that you can refer to?

BECK: I have assembled — at first, no. I've assembled a couple of people that are my real trusted friends just like you did. But I think — I don't know exactly. I'm naturally — because I'm not classically trained. I naturally think out of the box.

But I think I'm a believer first. I think out of the box and this was the piece that was missing for me. I didn't know what is next, how to survive. So I think I just naturally — I followed this probably the closest and just went — because I almost lost my soul.

And so I thought if I believe this, I have to say it, because I went to — I went to the scriptures. And you know, if you find yourself in a position where you can see over the gate, you can see over the horizon and you see something coming. If you don't warn, Bruce, what happens to you?

FEILER: Well, I would say you're going to go back to Egypt and to an oppressed state. And I have a person who’s done a dozen years reading and traveling and writing about the Bible.

When I get stuck, go back to text. If you go back to the text you can usually find meaning because there is a reason that it endures as a powerful metaphor. And this story is about the power of story to give us hope in challenging times. And I think that is what you talk about in "The Survivor's Club."

SHERWOOD: Well, I also think you go to text, but you also — we're all people and we go to our core personalities. And my question — and it relates to Moses and it relates to world leaders. My question is, you have taken some shots.

You've been knocked down and we've talked about each person's survivor personality. And you say you're a believer. I remember when you took the test a year ago, the survivor profiler test...

BECK: In the back of the book.


BECK: You don't have to help him. Let's take a break. And I want to come back even give the results of that test. But I want you to talk about that test that people can take and what it reveals about each individual.

SHERWOOD: And what kind of survivor you are.

BECK: OK. Next.


BECK: Best selling authors, best friends. These are the three books that they wrote. This one, Ben Sherwood — we were just talking about "The Survivor's Club," how people actually survive. And there is a test in the back of the book.

SHERWOOD: So the question I had after interviewing hundreds of survivors was, "What kind of survivor am I?" So I worked with leading psychologists and we developed the world's first survivor personality test. It takes just about 10 minutes on the web. And you took it a year ago.

BECK: Yes.

SHERWOOD: And what was interesting is you talk about how you're a believer, because there are believers. There are thinkers. There are connectors. There are realists. What was interesting was that you said you are a believer and, and of course, that is core.

But as I recall when you took the test, you found that you were a realist. And there is an interesting relationship between realists and believers. Realists see the world clearly. They see over the horizon. They can think outside the box. They can think the unthinkable. And they can identify challenges and threats.

Where do they turn? They can turn to all sorts of resources to overcome adversity - faith, belief. So these aren't at odds with many things at once. We've talked today about Moses. Moses is sort of the ultimate survivor.

In fact, I have seen a little action figure of Moses as a superhero. And Moses is sort of the definition of a believer, but he also had doubt, too. So each of us has built inside of us sort of a survival kit and you can find out what kind of survivor you are.

BECK: And it's also strange because Moses was also — he thought out of box. I mean, here is a guy who is like, "OK, I've got to go free." People from bondage? I mean, first thing he said was, "How am I going to do that?"

FEILER: Plague, splitting of the Red Sea...

BECK: Yes.

FEILER: You know, God coming down of the mountain. I mean, you talk about that as the original age of the unthinkable, the original survivor.

SHERWOOD: And a connector. Connector is a personality type. Some people survive by bringing people together, by using social bonds and social intelligence to make things happen. Plane crash or free the people from Egypt.

BECK: Back with final thoughts in just a second.


BECK: We were just talking in the break about, you know, what is coming in America. And I wanted to just tell you, tough times are coming. Not necessarily bad times. Tough times are coming.

And if you don't think out of the box, it is going to be bad. Please, these three books — pick them up. You'll find them on the Internet. You'll find them everywhere.

From New York, good night, America.

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