GLENN: I've been reading David Baldacci's new book, First Family, and I don't know, about halfway through it and my wife says to me last night, she said, what are you reading? And I said, this fantastic book. I haven't had a chance to read any fiction for a while now. And I said, I just, I don't remember.. I said, David's going to be on with me. I hope it's still a couple of weeks away because I just haven't had a chance to finish this and I really want to finish it because it's fantastic so far. I get in this morning and they said, hey, Glenn, by the way, Hour Number 3, David Baldacci's going to be with you. So David, I have to apologize. I've tried to read all of the book. I haven't been able to get all the way through it but it's fantastic so far.
BALDACCI: Thank you.
GLENN: It's really pretty creepy.
BALDACCI: Yeah, I do creepy really well people tell me. It's a talent to be creepy.
GLENN: Yeah, I don't want to give anything away.. So you explain what the book is about. Are you there, David? Did we lose him? Did we lose him? Dan? Oh, good.
DAN: We'll call him back. It says he's there, but
GLENN: Call him back. Dan
STU: Do you want me to guess at what it's about?
GLENN: What did you say, Stu?
STU: I can guess what it's about.
GLENN: First family, go ahead.
STU: Basically it's about a family, their last name is First, John and Tania First.
STU: It's about their struggles with the local softball league as they try to organize this ragtag group of
GLENN: No, it's creepy. It's creepy.
STU: Well, I just said toddlers. You don't think it's getting creepy from there? I think I can get to creepy from there. I'm just saying
GLENN: No, it's actually he's back on the line.
BALDACCI: I'm here. That was creepy.
GLENN: So tell us about the book real quick.
BALDACCI: First Family I bring back Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, secret service agents, I've written about them in two other books. They come back and the niece of the first lady is kidnapped after a birthday party at Camp David and she has a prior relationship with Sean King, the first lady, and she asks them to find her and they spend most of the book trying to do just that.
GLENN: Can you talk about the Southern connection?
BALDACCI: Yeah, this is sort of a David versus Goliath story and you think you've kind of lined up the good and evil players in this book early on but it sort of gets flipped on its head as you keep reading the novel. There's a guy named Sam Quarry who lives in rural Alabama and he lives on an old farm and his family's been there for centuries and he has something that he wants to accomplish. He has some revenge in mind. And I love comparing the worlds of, you know, D.C. power corridor with just a slice of Americana in the deep South and write about that plausibly in a story and Sam Quarry is the guy that allowed me to do that.
GLENN: You know, I have to tell you, I don't know how you envisioned this but I'm, you know, reading about the daughter that's upstairs and everything else and I'm I mean, I'm really creeped out by this guy.
GLENN: Did you intend it to be that creepy?
BALDACCI: Yeah. He's sort of, he's obsessed with what he needs to have done. And at the end you can decide whether he's justified or not but it's sort of an example of when you allow one thing in your life to completely dominate you, you sort of lose a little bit of sense of reality and in touch with the rest of the world.
GLENN: So David, here I am. We're reading about, you know, a first family, the president, and there's a kidnapping and a murder and everything else that happens. A guy who is a veteran. He is assisted by other veterans. They are involved in the kidnapping. They have got an axe to grind, everything else. I, David, am accused all the time of laying out scenarios, which I haven't done any of them, laying out scenarios where people can pick up their guns and take to the streets and start a revolution. You are writing a book that is, at least where I'm at, is what the Department of Homeland Security says they are afraid of. How are you how do you get away with that?
BALDACCI: How do I get away with it?
GLENN: How do you get away with that?
BALDACCI: That's why I write fiction. I'm only bound by plausibility and the things that I think could happen, not whether they do happen or will happen. Whether they can happen. And I try to take, you know, emotions that people are feeling and secrets in their past and build into the scenario things that could just blow up and erupt. And I think people tend to they sort of it's like the boogeyman. You know, when you were a little kid, you don't want to look under the bed and you look under the bed. Adults don't want to be scared from the same distance.
GLENN: I know how far you have to write a book, how far away that has to be. This is at least two years ago you were sensing this disenfranchisement. What were you sensing? Where did this come from? People are just stumbling onto the and maybe I'm wrong going down this road but I sense at the beginning of the book at least it's playing into the whole tea party kind of feel right now.
BALDACCI: Well, there's as we all know sort of looking around at the economy and a lot of other things that people are feeling very frustrated and there's a sense of injustice sweeping across the country if you are very rich and very powerful, you can get away with anything and that's just the way it will be. I was a lawyer for ten years and I represented people who either had a lot of money or didn't have any money at all and I lost cases I probably should have won and won cases I probably should have lost. That's just the way the system works. And sometimes you win because you have a better lawyer. And there is that sense of injustice that's days where you see big executives walking away with their millions and billions of dollars and leaving the rest of the economy trashed and I think that ordinary mom and pops across the country feel like, you know, the playing field is not level. It's not fair and people who should be punished are not being punished and I sense that emotion building in people, certainly.
GLENN: Okay. So but help me out on this because everybody another thing I'm accused of is making this all about Barack Obama. It ain't about Barack Obama. It's about both parties. It's about the whole system is just, it's gone to hell in a hand basket.
BALDACCI: Yeah, it is. We have a flawed political system right now. We've had it for a long time and I think people are sensing that, that big money controls a lot of what happens in Washington D.C., and you are right, both parties are to blame for it. It's been going on for decades and I think there's a growing sense of frustration. Every year, every election cycle people are frustrated but I think particularly with the economy bottoming out and seeing so many people walking away, you should not be walking away with this with riches in hand, that frustration is higher than I've ever seen it before.
GLENN: Where do you think we're headed, David? By the way, we're talking about his new book, first family. Is it out today or tomorrow?
BALDACCI: It's out tomorrow.
GLENN: I'm going to be real honest with the audience. I don't ever lie to them. I've only read about half of it and the first half, I can't wait to get home. It's one of those books where you can't you'll live all day. Do you know what I mean? You read those books and you live with it all day long. It's one of those books. It's absolutely fantastic. So
BALDACCI: Thank you.
GLENN: It's out tomorrow. Where do you think we're headed, David?
BALDACCI: Well, you know, I'm an optimist and I think that, you know, with the economy doing what it's doing that maybe it might get everybody back to a more basic level, you know, living more within their means but it also I think might have a turning point with, you know, how the government is run and has operated. And I would hope that people who never thought about getting into politics before might want to think about it now, who have a lot of common sense, who might have some experience, who want to stand up and make a difference. And also I think having us look at sort of how, you know, the government is structured. And I know a lot of people out there are really talking a lot more about term limits now, that having people up there for, you know, 30, 40, 50 years is not the right way to go and a lot of people are thinking about, well, maybe there should be more than two major political parties, the people should have more choices. I think all of those things right now probably have a lot more energy and a lot more juice than I've seen in the last 20 years.
GLENN: Hold on just a second because I want to further this conversation. David Baldacci joins us again in a second.
GLENN: Just looking at, we have David Baldacci on. His new book First Family is out tomorrow. It's a fantastic book. He had 75 million copies in print worldwide since he began publishing. All 16 of his novels including two nonthrillers have been New York Times best sellers and yet nobody reviews your book, do they?
BALDACCI: Yeah, according to some magazines I never get any good reviews but actually I get a lot of good reviews. But that doesn't matter to me. You know, I don't write for reviewers. I don't even know who they are.
GLENN: You know what's amazing to me, David, is these reviewers, you know, the same people that, you know, they wonder why their magazines or their newspapers are going out, you know, going out of business because they don't they are so snotty that they don't understand, like for instance and please try not to lose you may not have any respect for me. So I don't know. If you have any respect for me, don't lose very much. Until I was 18, I never read a book. I mean, I really, I read it for school but I hated reading, everything else. And I stumbled across Sherlock Holmes, Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle and I read that book and I read it twice because I didn't think any other book could be this good. And I loved it. And that got me into reading other books and now I read history, I read stuff that just makes your eyes bleed, but I love to read. It's like crack. What is it where they don't understand these elites getting you into any kind of book is a good thing.
GLENN: I know, I wish I understood it, too. I've talked about that as well. People need a variety in life. Sometimes you want to read a more serious book, sometimes you want to read nonfiction, sometimes you read something lighter. It's like going to the movies. I don't want to see an Oscar winner every time. Sometimes I just want to go and escape and newspapers and magazines really are shooting themselves in the foot by not promoting popular books because really that's what makes people read. It's not they will read my book or just another thriller like you. You read lots of different books, but you have to get started somehow.
GLENN: Yeah. What do you think of the Kindle?
BALDACCI: I've got one and I like it when I'm on the road. When I'm at home, I still pull out a real book.
GLENN: Yeah, I feel the same way. The only time I use my wife gave it to me because when I go on tour or whatever, I've got to I'm not kidding you, I have a suitcase just full of books. And she's like, you've got to stop with the stupid books. And so I bring a Kindle but I don't like it because I don't you don't turn the page. Somebody explained it and said, oh, it's like turning a page. No, it's not. It's like sitting there with a computer, a little teeny computer in bed.
BALDACCI: Right. No, I like the real books better.
GLENN: So we were talking before we went into break about what you think is coming and you said you're an optimist and, you know, David, I've been trying to ask some of the smarter people that I know, and anybody who writes plausible fiction for a living as well as you do, you know, you can't be an idiot on figuring things out.
GLENN: Help me out on this. You say that you think that it's going to you know, it will work out well because maybe it will get us back to reality and we'll spend within our means and we'll do the right things, we'll save, you know, we'll be reasonable people the way we used to be. But when you look at the economy and realize that 70, 75% of it is all built on spending and you've got the government now saying that they want to cut interest rates to negative 3% where if you borrow $100, you only have to pay them back $97, how do you save this economy? How do you save this system without it being rebooted when it's all built on bogus spending?
BALDACCI: Yeah, it is. It's been coming for a long time and when you have an economy that's based on you and me going to the shopping mall every Saturday and spending not just what we have but more than what we have, that's not sustainable. We have to get back to where Americans actually build things and know how things work and how to make things again and if we have to consume less of certain things, that's okay because nobody needs 10 Xboxes. But I think if we get back to a more fundamental sense of we actually produce things in this country that other people want to buy, that has ripple effect across the board because it means you have better educated workers, better training, the schools have to get better. It has a ripple effect that we don't need anymore right now. If I'm going to go to the shopping mall, why does my kid need an education to go to the shopping mall and buy the biggest gadget. We've gotten away from fundamentals, not just consumption, it's everything tied to consumption which includes job education. We've gotten away from all those things. I don't bedrock my faith in institutions, I bedrock it in resiliency of the American people and that's what I really believe in and I think we can come back. It's not going to be easy and it's not going to come without sacrifice but I think we can come back.
GLENN: See, I don't hear any politician actually saying that, though.
BALDACCI: I don't, either.
GLENN: That's where I'm at. I don't believe in the government. I mean, I don't hate the government by any stretch of the imagination. I'm more of a purist when it comes to the founders. I believe in what they believe. But I believe in the American people. I would bet on the American people and American ingenuity if the government gets out of their way over any group of people on planet Earth at any time period. We can accomplish something. There's something unique about us. But then again we're also at a time period, David, where you kind of look at us and you say, well, I don't know. I mean, there's only 53% now of the American people believe that capitalism is better than socialism. Are we, are we the people that is there enough of us that can turn this thing around that are willing to make the economic sacrifices in our own life to get back to basics?
BALDACCI: Well, you know, I can only speak to people I know and people I've talked to, you know, friends of mine, acquaintances across the socioeconomic spectrum but I don't know anyone that thinks that this country converting to socialism or communism is the right path to go. I think the people still believe deeply in capitalism because if you look, you know, in the last 40 or 50 years, most Americans have profited greatly from it and their living standards have grown exponentially. So those are all positives. But when you have such enormous growth and such enormous risk taking, you have issues like this in capitalism that come up. I think it was exacerbated by a lot of things that some people should probably go to prison=
for but at the same time capitalism is sort of a risky beast to live with and it got out of whack, completely out of whack. It's hurt a lot of people across the United States but that's not to say that we should jettison it for something that's going to be far worse. Most people that I know still believe in capitalism, still believe in personal freedoms and they want to see their system come back with a little fine tuning. I'd take moderate growth over these enormous peaks and valleys because I don't know anybody who wants to go through this again.
GLENN: Oh, I don't. I mean, who wants to go through this. But I don't want the security. I want a system where it does have the peaks and valleys but I mean, self regulation keeps you out of that yourself. I want to be able to succeed and to fail. You know, I don't want somebody putting an artificial regulation on it, especially people, you know, in Washington that don't that have never run a business.
BALDACCI: No, not at all. And I'm not suggesting that. But certainly if people go beyond the law, they should be punished for that.
GLENN: Oh, yeah.
BALDACCI: If they do things beyond the scenes that are not right, basically take money from other people unlawfully, they should be punished for that.
GLENN: Do you think that do you see those people, David you don't have to identify them and I don't even know what part of the political spectrum you come from. I think you are an independent.
GLENN: God bless you. Do you see the people in Washington that you trust that you say this person is in there fighting?
BALDACCI: There are some, you know. There are some that are there for the right reasons that I know. I can't say that they constitute a majority by any means and that's unfortunate because right now we do, we need real leadership, you know, real altruism, real public spirit. But there's a lot of people that have been embedded there for a long time.
GLENN: The name of the book is First Family, it is out tomorrow. It is a great read. First Family by David Baldacci.