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Beck's backing bumps Skousen book to top

Published: Saturday, March 21 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

W. Cleon Skousen's book "The 5000 Year Leap: A Miracle That Changed the World, Principles of Freedom 101" is No. 1 on Amazon.com's list of Best-sellers in Books. The book was originally published in 1981.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Move over, Oprah. Apparently, a book recommendation from Fox News Channel talk show host Glenn Beck carries a lot of punch, too.

Beck, who will speak at the Stadium of Fire during America's Freedom Festival at Provo on July 4, has told viewers and listeners of his TV and radio shows to buy a book published nearly 30 years ago by late Utah and Mormon author W. Cleon Skousen.

On Friday, after several days in the top 10, "The 5000 Year Leap: A Miracle That Changed the World, Principles of Freedom 101" leaped to No. 1 on Amazon.com's list of Bestsellers in Books.

"Everyone should read this book," the conservative talk show host said as he passed out copies during a recent broadcast. On his radio program Friday evening, Beck touted the book's climb to No. 1.

Skousen published "The 5000 Year Leap" in 1981, nearly 25 years after he published "The Naked Communist," a national bestseller that has sold more than 1 million copies.

"The 5000 Year Leap" is now in its seventh edition. In it, Skousen lists 28 fundamental beliefs he declared were held by America's Founding Fathers. He suggested those core beliefs made possible more world progress in the first 200 years of the American experiment than was made in the previous 5,000.

Beck added an introduction to the copies he handed out on his show. "(Skousen) was years ahead of his time," Beck wrote. "And our founders were thousands of years ahead of their time. My hope is that all Americans young and old will spend time with this book to understand why we are who we are. The words of our Founding Fathers have a way of reaching across any political divide."

Beck, as Skousen was, is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"They are words of wisdom that I can only describe as divinely inspired," Beck continued in his introduction. "They are here for us to help solve the unsolvable — and they are the reason why we have for so long been the greatest nation on earth. But most importantly, in these pages, you will find hope."

Beck, who regularly criticizes the Obama administration and decries the nation's financial future on his shows, is the third most-watched individual on cable television. His 5 p.m. program averaged nearly 2.2 million viewers last month.

He has been featured during the Stadium of Fire in Provo for the past two years.

Skousen died in 2006 at the age of 92. A sometimes controversial figure inside and outside the church, where he was close to late church President David O. McKay, he caused a huge flap in 1960 when as Salt Lake City's police chief he raided a private club where new Mayor J. Bracken Lee was playing cards. Lee fired Skousen.

Skousen spent 15 years as a professor at Brigham Young University in two stints. An FBI agent who worked with J. Edgar Hoover, he ran for governor of Utah and organized the Freemen Institute, later known as the National Center for Constitutional Studies, which published "The 5000 Year Leap."

Skousen never joined the ultra-conservative John Birch Society but was a supporter. NewMajority.com writer David Frum has called Skousen a Mormon Bircher and characterizes him as one of the "legendary cranks of the conservative world, a John Bircher, a grand fantasist of theories about secret conspiracies between capitalists and communists to impose a one-world government."

Dozens of Amazon.com book reviewers have praised "The 5000 Year Leap." One, S. Peek, wrote that "The premise of the book is that because of the free market system that took root after our Constitution was enacted, the United States literally made a 5,000-year leap of progress in the time since then."

The book outlines sources of thought used by the Founders as they developed the Constitution, including Cicero, Locke, Montesquieu and Adam Smith.

"One great thing about this book is that the author discusses some of the problems that we have faced in recent years arising from failure to follow the Constitution and the principles of the Founders," Peek wrote at Amazon.com. "Some of these are issues like the mounting national debt, excessive taxation and judicial activism."

E-MAIL: haddoc@desnews.com

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