|The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer|
GLENN: 888 727 BECK. Brad Meltzer stopped by. He is author of a great book. When did this come out? About a year ago?
GLENN: The Book of Lies, and it involves the Superman house which, Brad, you're like a big, you are a big comic book kind of
GLENN: You are like a legend in the comic book world, right, Kev? Like a legend in the comic book world.
MELTZER: That's the best part, you get to cut on your cape and utility belt. Every boy has two dreams, one is to date a center fold and one is to write comic books but only one of those is worthwhile as my wife will tell you. I love writing these thrillers but there's nothing like putting words in Superman's mouth. That is to me one of the great American dreams.
GLENN: So you, the last time if I'm not mistaken you were on, or one of the last times, you talked about the Superman house because it plays a central role in this, and you said, "I couldn't believe it that it was here we were walking through the Superman house and it was falling apart.
MELTZER: Yeah, I went down to Cleveland because I wanted to research the book and show people where it had come from and the origin of this character and
GLENN: Hang on just a second. He was the one who wanted to go to Cleveland.
MELTZER: Right, right, exactly. Can you imagine? My wife is like, you've been in the White House, you've been in the Supreme Court, you've been in the capitol and you are going to Cleveland by choice? And I said, I love it, I can't help it.
GLENN: It's actually a great town.
MELTZER: It is a great town and they were really nice to me and they took me there. We knocked on the door and the place I thought it would be something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, you know? It would be like gorgeous apple pie on the front porch.
MELTZER: And it was wrecked. And the house where Google was founded is protected. The garage where Hewlett Packard is found is preserved. But the house where Superman was created is destroyed. I mean, there were holes in the walls, holes in the ceilings and it just seemed wrong to me.
MELTZER: This is still a character, for better or worse who's more recognized than Abraham Lincoln and it's our history.
GLENN: Well, I mean, it's the key to truth, justice
MELTZER: You got to say it. No, no, you have to say it, trust me. I actually wrote a letter when they left out the American way.
GLENN: That was an abomination.
MELTZER: I absolutely agree with you. When they did that, I got a call from the Wall Street Journal because they wanted comments. They were like, Brad, what do you think? I said, I think it's horrible.
GLENN: Hang on just a second many I'm sorry for being an antigeek here but I'm just as much of a geek as you are, I'm just a geek on different things.
MELTZER: We all are.
GLENN: No, you are a cooler geek. You are Superman, I'm Woodrow Wilson. Anyway
MELTZER: The sad part is actually Woodrow Wilson was a cool president.
GLENN: Were you actually
MELTZER: He is. Because he's a great history person.
GLENN: Woodrow Wilson?
MELTZER: I'm a history major. How do I know? He's a teacher? He's fantastic.
GLENN: Oh, you and I are going to come to blows here in just a second.
MELTZER: You don't like Woodrow Wilson?
GLENN: You are a history major and you ask me that question? Woodrow Wilson, he had 150,000 political prisoners.
MELTZER: He did have that. He did have that. I can't argue with you on that. But you know what I love about him is he actually like, he tried to be I'm not saying that the doctrine was his best call, but I will say that I like that he loved history. That was a good thing for me. I like the guys who like him. That's why I like
GLENN: He was the one who put a bunch of people together at Columbia to change history.
MELTZER: I know, I know, I know. But I'm saying, but you know
GLENN: I'm going to have Superman come and clobber the crap out of you.
MELTZER: It's like Teddy Roosevelt, these are guys who I know, I know, you gotta have them.
GLENN: No, you don't. Teddy Roosevelt? Have you read his speeches on nationalism?
MELTZER: You know what I like about them? I like the guys, this is what I like. If you say what do you stand for, I don't care where you went to school, I don't care how much money you make. I care about regular ordinary people just like you. I know you have the same love, okay? And what I love about it is these guys, for the most part I'm not saying there aren't a lot of examples, especially in the Roosevelt family with tons of money and things like that, but they actually fought for what they believed sometimes. You know, like for the most part. I like Roosevelt for that. I do. I like him for that.
GLENN: No, they both fought for what they
MELTZER: What they believe in.
GLENN: Yeah. But they were
MELTZER: And I appreciate that.
MELTZER: I love you, by the way, I do. Marry me.
GLENN: And so this is getting weird. I could never marry you. You like Woodrow Wilson! Okay, so you write Superman. Are you the guy who writes, do you write the stories in Superman?
MELTZER: I write my thrillers and I spend two years on those researching those and then basically the teenage thriller, I'll go write a comic book for them and they love a
MELTZER: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, there's nothing like it.
GLENN: That's got to be so cool.
MELTZER: Again you get to put words in Superman's mouth and I love fiction characters but when you write S u p e r m a n, that's part of history.
GLENN: Superman's got to go save trees, have they had any pressure that any of these things have to be, the Batmobile needs to be a hybrid!
MELTZER: They are actually doing something like that but they know not to do that with me. I won't stand for it. I'm a purist and I'm like, Superman to me
GLENN: Woodrow Wilson would, Teddy Roosevelt would.
MELTZER: Now you are actually making me think things about Wilson and I'm going, okay, that's fair, that's fair, I got you, I got you. But on the Superman side, like to me, you know what I love about Superman? Here's what I love about Superman is that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster that created Superman were so poor, they used to draw on the back wallpaper, they are from nothing. And they gave us Superman, two poor kids who just had a dream. And everyone told them they couldn't do it. They got all these rejection letters who said this is too fantastic, kid, no one will believe it. And they gave us Superman. And that idea is as pure of the American dream.
GLENN: That is the American dream. The American way.
MELTZER: That's it, of course it is.
GLENN: That's the American way.
MELTZER: And these guys came in and I love that. I love that it came from nowhere that one of the greatest dreams that we have, and this character that's so easy to make fun of and say, oh, it's a cape and it's silly, but it stands for what we stand for as people.
GLENN: Yes, as people.
MELTZER: As people.
GLENN: As people. Let me take you here on this. Finish up the Superman house. So it was all rat infested.
MELTZER: I don't know if you know what you did. You actually when I came on the show, our goal was to raise $50,000 and save this house. We were doing the auction. And you said to me, Brad, I'm going to bring you on the radio, we're going to raise some money. The day after I left the show last time, the auction kicked into overdrive. We raised not $50,000, we raised over $100,000. Since I saw you, we've been working on the house and we redid the roof, redid the siding, replaced 85% of the windows. And on June 10th or 11th, on Saturday, June 11th July 11th, I'm sorry, we're going to unveil the house. We saved it.
GLENN: That's unbelievable.
MELTZER: And all the work is done and they are working on the inside now. It's incredible.
GLENN: Is it a historic site yet?
MELTZER: You know the sad part it was, it was an historic site. There was no money for it and it ran into the ground. So we saved it. Joe, the artist who drew Superman, his house was actually torn down, it was in such bad shape. The family, we have a family who lives there right now. This poor family, they have no money. You know, it's in a neighborhood where across the street from the house there's a sign over the doors that say, you know, no piping in this house, PVC only because it's a neighborhood where they will steal your pipes. They will steal everything. This is a neighborhood that's just totally run down. And, you know
GLENN: So basically you're making this family a target.
MELTZER: That's the goal.
MELTZER: That's pretty much the goal. The sad part is we're like, okay, now we need to get them, like, security fences, too.
GLENN: If you don't mind, hang on just for a second because I want to talk to you a little bit about the Supreme Court because you did a lot of work for the Supreme Court and then you've got to, like, know the well, we'll get to
MELTZER: Save it, save it, save it.
GLENN: Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee next.
GLENN: 888 727 BECK. Brad Meltzer is with us. He about a year ago wrote The Book of Lies. Out in paperback now?
MELTZER: Out in paperback.
GLENN: It's a great book. We were just having well, I was just throwing rocks at his head because he is a fan of Woodrow Wilson. But then he says, but you know I'm writing a new novel. I said, really, what's it about? It's about the founding fathers. You Woodrow Wilson crazing freak, if you take on the founding fathers. Tell me about the founding fathers.
MELTZER: Well, I'll tell you about my favorite, who is the greatest spy, the first American great spy we ever had, the first spy master. Who was the best one?
GLENN: I don't think I know that. Yeah, I don't think I
MELTZER: It's George Washington. George Washington is the world's first and greatest spy we've had, spy master I should say, you know, ran the greatest spy ring.
GLENN: Oh, okay, yeah. Do you know I was talking I had dinner with Bill O'Reilly. He has an original letter from George Washington to, who was the spy that he had while he was at Valley Forge in here's my quiz.
MELTZER: You're close.
GLENN: In Philadelphia. And he has the original letter that says
MELTZER: The Talmadge letter?
GLENN: I'm not sure if that's who it was. But it says, watch when Howe arrives. Don't molest them. Turn around. Come tell me immediately.
MELTZER: You have no idea how close you are to my new book.
MELTZER: Oh, yeah. The thing about George Washington that's so beautiful is, my obsession with him, I have two obsessions. One is inspiring and one is Benedict Arnold and why I love it is it's so pure. We all know what it's like to be stabbed in the back and when all this is going on, all this spy stuff is going on and everything's happening, he still keeps his eye on one thing and that is I want that Benedict Arnold back. I can't ruin it.
GLENN: What do you think boy, we are in deep geek territory.
MELTZER: Trust me, this is where
GLENN: What do you think of Benedict Arnold before the betrayal?
MELTZER: Benedict Arnold is actually here's the thing. If he dies in that battle where he hurts his leg, he goes down as one of the greatest heroes in American history. He does.
GLENN: But then what happens?
MELTZER: He fights like a crazy person but then he ruins it all because he is after his own ego and other things. And listen, no doubt he gets screwed over.
MELTZER: Benedict Arnold gets screwed over by his supervisors who just have it out for him.
MELTZER: That story, right, that's what it is. But I don't forgive anyone who at our moment when I mean, he literally, if Valley Forge, if it goes over, we're done. That's it. That is the pivot point of American history. You know, I'm obsessed with pivot points, you know, there's moments where it goes
GLENN: We are like do you listen to this show?
MELTZER: I love you. You know that. I don't listen to the radio but I watch your show, of course. I watch TV.
MELTZER: We're like brothers from a different mother. My mother happened to hate Woodrow Wilson.
MELTZER: My mother happens to love The Inquirer. I mean, what am I going to do? That's just the way it goes.
GLENN: Tell me about the novel. I will get to the Supreme Court thing some other time.
MELTZER: My obsession, what I wrote my law school entry on, when I went into law school
GLENN: Wait, wait, wait, wait. You went to law school.
MELTZER: Yeah, this even never used it. Never used it.
GLENN: Your mother still speaks to you?
MELTZER: Let me tell you
GLENN: You went to law school? What was the conversation like when you said, mom, I know I went to law school, I'm going to write comic books.
MELTZER: Well, the thing was my mom has read and you know, my mom actually, and dad, have read seven books in their whole lives. No offense to you, but they are my seven books. That's it. My dad didn't go to college, my mom didn't go to college.
GLENN: I didn't go to college. What are you making fun of people who went to college saying there's no
MELTZER: No, I'm the first person in my family to go to college. So the idea that I went to law school, why more school? They can't understand it. You know, they are just like, what are you doing? Why would you ever do that? I went to law school just because we came from nothing. I mean, we came from nothing. We have my dad at 40 years old lost his job, had $1200 to his name and said I'm going to start the do over life. He said, I'm going to start life over from scratch and I'm going to and we moved to Florida, moved out of New York and started his life over from nothing. I remember going, we went to a Wendy's
GLENN: Smart man, move out of New York. Go to Florida, that was brilliant.
MELTZER: It really was. That was the pivot moment, that was it. I remember we didn't have enough money for baby sitters. So we actually went and sat. We would go on the job interviews with him. And I remember sitting in a Wendy's and he was being interviewed on the other side of the Wendy's and I had to pretend I didn't know who he was. And I remember eating french fries going, "My life is being decided on the opposite side of a Wendy's. And so for me to go to law school, they were like, what, are you crazy? You know, they still, my dad still thinks
GLENN: Get fries for free when you work at Wendy's.
MELTZER: That's true, that's true.
GLENN: All right, I only have a minute. When does the new book come out?
MELTZER: The new book comes out in 2010. But you know trust me, I always send you the early copies.
GLENN: That's going to be if you trash you?
MELTZER: Crash? They are my heroes. They are my American heroes.
GLENN: I know you people that are writing comic books all the time, let's make Superman
MELTZER: Let me tell you something. You know who else loves it like I do? You know who loves it like we do?
MELTZER: You know who loves it like we do is 41. He loves it. I talked to him about it. I talked to him, he actually has a key part
GLENN: See what's happening here? No it's going to 41.
MELTZER: I'm saying but 41 is don't tell me you don't like 41.
GLENN: All right
MELTZER: Only in the court picks.
GLENN: That's fantastic, fantastic. Name of the book is The Book of Lies, and it's out again in paperback. It's well worth the read and I can't wait for your new one. Thanks, man, thanks for stopping by. Back in a minute.