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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Brad Thor On His New Thriller, Act Of War

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HH: On my anniversary show, 32 years married to the Fetching Mrs. Hewitt, 14 years on the air linked to Duane and Adam and all of you HHRS listeners, a special guest for a special day – Brad Thor, author extraordinaire. He’s got the number one New York Times bestseller in the past, and I have no doubt that Act of War, which is out now, will rise up the charts. Hello, Brad, and best congratulations to you. This is really something for reasons that I’m about to discuss.

BT: Well, Hugh, it’s great to be with you, and I can’t thank you enough for having me on again, Hugh.

HH: Now the first thing I’ve got to say is I got up this morning, and the first thing I do is I check the New York Times. I’ve been reading Act of War late into the evening. And on the front page of the New York Times today is a story that the Chinese have broken into the personnel confidential files of my old agency, the Office of Personnel Management. They figured out that that’s where we keep all the personnel clearances, and they’ve looted all this stuff. And you open up Act of War, and it begins in Beijing, or nearly Beijing, with their special department 2 launching all sorts of initiatives. You’re not surprised by this stuff, but I think your book’s going to be an eye-opener to people about the real nature of this regime.

BT: Well, I hope so, because first and foremost, Hugh, as you and I have discussed in our friendship on and off the radio over the years, my job first and foremost is to entertain people. That’s why I like to read thrillers. I like to come out in July. It’s the beach read season. But with Black List, which you and I talked about a couple of years ago, I presaged the NSA scandal. And even further back with the First Commandment, I anticipated the high level Taliban Gitmo prisoner swap, and I didn’t say we’d give four, I didn’t say we’d give six. I said exactly five on Page One of that book, and that’s what happened. And I really believe that a thriller writer’s job is to beat the headlines.

HH: Well, I hope you’re not beating the headlines this time, because if Operation Snow Dragon, and I’m going to let, we have to, I always walk a fine line. I try not to give away too much. I try to tell you a little bit that will not in any way ruin your enjoyment. But if anything like Operation Snow Dragon is being run or contemplated by the PRC, we are in the for the confrontation of all confrontations.

BT: Well, I like to tell people, Hugh, that no matter how many Starbucks I have in my neighborhood, or how quickly I can download videos of cats from the internet onto my smart phone, we still live in a very aggressive, very dangerous world. And I think our world has become more dangerous, because our nation has kind of recoiled into its shell a little bit. We’re not projecting the strength in support of our allies we need to. So that’s the stuff that worries me as a thriller writer.

HH: Now I want to tell, because I have audiences in all four cities, you are signing books tonight in Dallas at Half-Price Books, their flagship station over there at 5803 E. Northwest Highway, and then tomorrow, you’re in my wonderful city of Highlands Ranch in Colorado at the Tattered Cover. Saturday, you’re at the Scottsdale Public Library. That’s a throwback. I love that, at 5pm. And then Sunday, you’re in Houston, Texas, and my friends, Christina and Steve, and a whole bunch of people are going to come by, murdered by the book. All of your book signings are coming up, but I wanted to let that, let those folks know. You really do a lot of this, Brad, and more and more, authors don’t go out and meet the public. Why are you still doing this?

BT: Well, Hugh, I tell people when I’m on the road and I’m at these book signing events that I get once a year to go out and see the people who I work for. I’m a small business owner. I try to create a better product each year. I try to get better. I try to hone my craft. And then I get to go out and say hey, thank you. Without you, you wonderful readers, you wonderful booksellers, I wouldn’t have this career that I love.

HH: All right, now let’s go back to Act of War. And Act of War is linked at It’s going to fly off shelves and lay down in Costco and go up the New York Times list. Tell us about unrestricted warfare. It will not be new to the people who listen to this show, because two years ago, I had Dr. Kissinger on talking about his book, On China. And it closed with a rather gloomy chapter about the rise of these colonels, two Chinese colonels who you talk about, actually, as you begin the war. They don’t believe in restricted war, that they’re all about unconventional attacks, and there are no rules. But explain what unrestricted warfare is.

BT: Well, there were two Chinese colonels in the Chinese military who realize that China could never face America on the conventional battlefield, and that if China was ever going to go to war with the U.S., they would have to come up with a brand new way of waging war. This is almost like Hitler saying how do we run through all these countries quickly, not get anybody in our way, and knock down the ones who do? And these two Chinese colonels came out with a brilliant, absolutely terrifying and brilliant white paper titled Unrestricted Warfare. And rule number one about unrestricted warfare is that there are no rules. If you want to poison a water supply in the United States, if you want to put bombs in movie theaters, if you want to bring down the power grids, and there’s even some anecdotal stuff out there that the Chinese were involved in that big Northeast blackout back in the 2003-2004. That’s fair game. But this is all geared towards the United States, weaponizing things we take for granted, and bringing us down, collapsing us rom within, and then after a year after they’ve done this to us, and we’ve had a 90% die off, then they can roll right in with their tanks and all that kind of stuff, and there’ll be nobody left to stop them.

HH: And as we will talk about a little bit later, not just with their tanks, but with their collateralization. We’re talk about that a little bit later. But I want to also raise the possibility that you’ve raised, and many other people have thought about, but usually in the semi-classified, semi-restricted world of high cost, high subscription newsletters, the use of Muslim radical proxies by the PRC, that they don’t want their fingers on this for a variety of reasons. They want what, the classic turn is a cutoff man, or in this case, a cutoff jihadi. And I don’t know that you’re working here from anything other than your imagination, or is there stuff, is there buzz in the world into which you are so deeply wired about this?

BT: Well, it was spelled out directly in Unrestricted Warfare that the Chinese said if we do go about collapsing the United States from within, we need to use third-party actors. We need cutouts that can stand between us and the actual deeds so that we don’t get the condemnation of the global community for triggering the collapse of the United States. There is a great author, Kevin Freeman, who did a whole book about was the 2008 financial collapse part of unrestricted warfare by the Chinese. I’ve talked to Ginni Thomas repeatedly about this. She’s written about it. There’s a lot of us in the United States concerned that the Chinese have been using other actors to hide their involvement in trying to weaken the United States. So in Unrestricted Warfare, for instance, Hugh, that book was written in the late 1990s. They said you what would be the great way to begin the collapse of the United States? Boy, if only Osama bin Laden could be brought over to hit the World Trade Center and bring it all the way down, and that’s actually what happened.

HH: Now there are also in Act of War, Brad Thor’s brand new book, a number of snatch and grab operations that I wanted to ask a very specific question. There’s one in Karachi. There is one in Dubai. And these are, these have actually been practiced by the CIA in Pakistan. I don’t know if we’ve done any in Dubai, and successfully so. They brought back the killer of the attacker on the CIA after 15 years, they pursued that guy. But how did you, have you been to Karachi? I mean, it’s like being there in this thing.

BT: No, but I know a very, very dangerous handful of men who are incredible patriots that have been. So I asked them what does it smell like, what does it feel like. You know, what is it like when you’re on a street that I was describing where the ocean’s that close, but all these trucks are belching diesel fumes, how brightly lit is it, all that kind of stuff. So if I can’t get there, I made it as far as Afghanistan, but I didn’t go to Karachi. But if I can’t go there, I want somebody who has been there on the ground that can tell me exactly, exactly what it’s like.

HH: The other thing that sticks with me, Brad Thor, is that you really hate Dubai traffic. And I do not know if that’s based on personal experience or reputation.

BT: It is. I was in Dubai. Dubai was the launching pad for me to go into Afghanistan. So as a funny story, flew into Dubai, and the team that I was going to be joining in Afghanistan, the big piece of advice that they give me before leaving home was get in great shape, grow your beard out, get your affairs in order. And then when I got to Dubai, they said jump into a bathing suit, put on high level sunscreen, and sit outside at the pool so that you can readjust your body clock, because when you get into Kabul, we don’t want you being plagued with jet lag. So I went out in Dubai while I was staging there ready to go into Afghanistan, and Hugh, it’s the worst traffic in the world.

HH: You see, I’ve always said Moscow, of every place I’ve…I’ve never been to Dubai, but of every place I’ve ever been, I thought Moscow was worse. But the way you described it in Act of War, and by the way, it’s one of the things that makes your book so wonderful to read, is a lot of intensely localized detail that people can rely on. I am never going to Dubai. I just don’t want to drive to the airport.

BT: Listen, what was funny is, is as tough as the traffic was, when we were leaving Afghanistan, and I was going to be going back through Dubai, the guys said remember, Brad, we told you, make sure there isn’t a single round of ammunition in your bag. Did you check everything? And I said yeah, and they said okay, and they completely, it was like being in boot camp. They turned my duffel inside out, checked everything out, and they repacked it for me, because if you get caught with even one round of ammunition, it is a year in jail in the UAE.

HH: Wow.

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HH: Brad, you have an enormous following on Twitter, and you talk to people, unlike most authors. Well, Berenson does it a little bit. You love to mix it up with your audience.

BT: I think it’s important, and I think that’s one of the great things about social media is that you can. At the end of the day, I want to know what people are thinking. I want to know what people are saying. And I want to be part of that dialogue not only participating in it, but also helping shape some of it. And you know me. I’m a political animal. I write political thrillers. I like politics. And I’m a citizen who sees himself as a steward of the republic. My job is to leave a better, stronger, healthier, more prosperous nation to the next generation.

HH: Well then, let me honor that by taking a call from David in Spartanburg, South Carolina listening on 94.5. Hi, David, you’re on the Hugh Hewitt Show. You get the kickoff call to Brad Thor before I go back to my line of questions.

David: Hey, Hugh, morning glory.

HH: Evening grace.

David: Hey, I’ve got a question for Brad. I don’t remember if it was you or him that said it, but talking about a good thriller writer needs to be able to beat the headlines.

BT: Correct. That’s what I said.

HH: That was Brad.

David: Something else you said later on about bin Laden and what not. Is it ever a concern to you that you might be giving the bad guys ideas?

HH: What a great question, David. How about that, Brad? Are you letting them think too much about bad things?

BT: It is a great question, and yes, I mean, that’s something you think about as a thriller writer, this kind of concept of first, do no harm, to steal a motto from another profession. But you know, the stuff I write about, it’s fiction. And I have a lot of people who are active, military active intelligence, active law enforcement people that I share my manuscripts with. And I say what do you think? And what’s funny is I hang around with enough people that they’ll say Brad, we gave you Point A. We also talked about Point C. But you figured out B on your own, and you wrote B into the manuscript. B cannot be in there. It’s got to come out. And I’ve gone through as many as 15 revisions sometimes trying to obscure things that friends of mine thought would be dangerous. So I take it seriously. You know, I don’t want to be giving the bad guys any ideas. So I do rely on people who know what’s going on to kind of steer me. But at the end of the day, I’m all about the entertainment factor. So you know, I want it to be entertaining, but never want to do anything that would hurt the country or our men and women who serve the country.

HH: Thank you, David. That raises a question from me about Act of War, Brad. Operation Red Wing, familiar to many Americans, of course, as Lone Survivor, the story that gave rise to that tragic, yet heroic Marcus Luttrell book and movie, Red Wing is referenced in Act of War. I won’t tell people why, because I want them to be surprised by it. Did you run that past some of your friends in Special Warfare, Naval Special Warfare to see what they thought about your treatment of that incident and its parallel?

BT: I did. As a matter of fact, you know, I have had the honor of meeting Marcus on a couple of different occasions. I got to go to a special screening of Act of War down in Texas that Marcus put together for his Navy SEAL brothers and some other folks, friends and family. And it was a real, it was so special to be in Marcus’ presence. I mean, he’s an incredible warrior and an incredible man, incredible American. And what was interesting is after Operation Redwing, one of the things people talked about was, the warriors talked about, is what would I do if I was in that situation with those goat herders that had stumbled across the four SEALs. Would I have done the same thing Marcus did, knowing what happened to Marcus and his team, Marcus being the only survivor of the four. Would I have done something differently? Would I have obeyed the rules of engagement? Would I have obeyed by conscience? And I thought that, Hugh, would make for such dramatic tension in a thriller. I said I’ve got to do that. I’ve got to put these, I’ve got to put a similar team in a situation where there weren’t the rules of engagement that Marcus and his teammates were bound by, and let it play out. Let’s see how these characters of my novel would discuss and then act upon what they thought the right course of action for their assignment was.

HH: That’s an amazing sequence, and I think it’s going to get quite a lot of notice in the reviews, quite a lot of notice in the discussion boards about Brad Thor. That’s all I’m going to tell you, is that sort of a revisiting of Operation Redwing’s critical decision path is played out in Act of War. Difficult to write? Was it hard to figure out?

BT: It was tough. I have to tell you, I could not write my books without some incredible people that contribute. And it’s, if I reach out and call one of these guys, I need an answer right now, because I’m stuck at my keyboard, and I can’t go until I get an answer. And I have to tell you, they pick up my phone call every single time, and I am indebted to them not only as an American, but also as an author. So I really got some ground truth from these guys who helped with this particular book, and I’m very fortunate to know some of the men that I do.

HH: Now I’m jumping quite a lot around, because I don’t want to give anyone any clues as to what happens. I want to talk about China now, particularly about the Politburo Standing Committee, the nine member Politburo Standing Committee. And you can get in line again, 1-800-520-1234. Sherry and the rest of you, don’t worry, I’ll get to you. What about this, Brad? Is that how it actually operates? Is there a nine member Politburo Standing Committee?

BT: There is, and nothing happens without them having their fingerprints on it. I wanted to kind of get around them and everything, and I spoke to a couple of quiet China experts that I know, and they said Brad, if you want this book to ring true, you’re going to have to make this something that the Politburo Standing Committee would be aware of, this kind of an operation, because even the elites within the Chinese intelligence apparatus would not do the things that you’re talking about in your book without people signing off. And I said well, that’s got to be a disaster. I can’t imagine Chinese politicians are any different than American politicians. And these sources said they’re a little bit different. Things happen in China that don’t happen here, but yes, there’s always a political calculation when there’s politicians involved. And that’s something that vexes intel operatives. And they often try to kind of back the politicians into the decision that they, the intel officers, want to get. So there’s that strategy, and that was something that I wanted to employ in the novel.

HH: So this attack this morning, this massive cyberattack revealed by the government today on the Office of Personnel Management, do you think that’s the kind of attack that has to get up to the nine member committee? Or is that something that’s been authorized by general standing rule, just probe, probe, probe, steal what you can steal, get the information?

BT: From what I understand, the Standing Committee gets kind of broad reviews. You know, the President has his daily briefing. And the Standing Committee gets reviewed on operations just in general. Here are kind of the pools we’re fishing in. The Chinese hackers, also known as crackers, their command and control structure feeds that information up the chain. So they’re aware in broad brushstrokes of what they’re trying to do. But what’s amazing is the People’s Liberation Army in particular, the amount of manpower they have devoted to trying to get into our systems, it is absolutely astounding how many men and how much money is being poured into stealing from us. It’s an around the clock thing in China.

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HH: I’m going to honor my pledge. Cherry in Sacramento, you get a call in with Brad Thor on the week of his book launch. What do you want to ask Brad?

Cherry: Yes, I’m honored to talk to Brad. He’s a great patriot, and sitting with a great patriot as well. My thoughts, I have picked up, and about the military, because you’re so well versed, as far as I read a little thing about maybe documents filed or something didn’t show that an official stand down was given for Benghazi. Well, Brad, we’ve always had a habit, haven’t we throughout history that some officers would get together and say we’ve got to go help these guys, we’ve got to do this if anybody was in trouble? So it seems to me, Brad, if you don’t say the word go, you have automatically given a stand down order. Am I correct?

HH: Cherry, good question. Brad Thor, what do you think about that?

BT: Well, we do know that men, very brave men from the CIA annex, did say forget it, we’re going over there, we’re the closest people to go help them. As far as what was done or what was not done by the White House, I would agree. You know, we see all these pictures of President Obama sitting in the Situation Room the night that the bin Laden raid happened, but there’s zero photos of him during Benghazi. Now that’s not exactly something you’d want to publicize. Here’s your president watching Americans and an American ambassador get killed. But we don’t even know where Obama was. You’ll remember, Hugh, when that young man from the Obama administration, former staffer, was on with Bret Baier and called him dude, that was like two years ago…

HH: Yup.

BT: But he confirmed that Obama was not in the Situation Room when that was happening. So we don’t know the timeline for Obama or for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

HH: Now let me also talk with Tangi in Colorado. Brad is going to be signing books tomorrow night at the Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch. He’s over in Dallas tonight at Half Price Books. Tangi, welcome, you’re on the Hugh Hewitt Show with author Brad Thor.

Tangi: Thank you, Hugh. Hi, Brad. I just finished the book yesterday.

BT: Wow, you’re a fast reader. Thank you.

Tangi: I am a fast reader. Well, I got it on my Kindle, and I’m going to try and come tomorrow night down to Highlands Ranch when you’re at the Tattered Cover.

HH: And remember, no spoilers, Tangi.

Tangi: No spoilers. Okay.

HH: Okay.

Tangi: I just found it fascinating you didn’t talk anymore about his love life. I mean, is it Lara and her little boy, Marco?

HH: Okay, now that’s kind of quasi-spoiler, but go ahead.

BT: They are referenced in the book as you know, Tangi, since you just read it. You know, it’s interesting. This is, writing a thriller, it’s show and it’s business. And you have to decide what you want to do. And I looked at the pacing and everything, and it was happening so fast. It was taking place over just a handful of days, that I didn’t want to slow the action down, but I did want to acknowledge that Harvath was thinking about those people that are kind of growing influences in his life. So I did make sure to make mention of them in the book, although you won’t see too much hugging and kissing with Harvath and his current love interest.

HH: And there’s a little bit of an interesting family psychodrama in here. The Magnificent Seven movie episode, are you a big Magnificent Seven fan, Brad?

BT: I am a huge fan, Hugh. And one of the things that’s interesting, when you write a series character like I do, my number one goal is that you can pick up any book in the series and be perfectly, you can read it, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t read the other books before. But the big challenge for me as an author is how do I reveal more about this main character that people have been on multiple adventures with? And I thought through the Magnificent Seven, through that relationship he has with his dad who was in the SEALs, I thought that would be kind of fun, because my dad was a big Steve McQueen fan, and so am I.

HH: And I had no idea. Is it true that it’s the most watched movie, or the second most watched movie in America, given the number of times it’s shown on TV?

BT: Right after the Wizard of Oz. That is the claim.

HH: That is a pretty remarkable stat. I’ve seen it a few times. I don’t know dialogue from it. Can you actually, is dialogue running around Brad Thor’s head from the Magnificent Seven as it is in Scot Harvath’s?

BT: Well, a little bit, and you know, you really, it’s such a great, just gritty cowboy movie where these guys come together to protect a group of Mexican farmers who can’t defend themselves against these banditos, these just, you know, I’m, I hate the mafia. I hate any criminal element at all, organized or disorganized. And that story’s always resonated with me. And there’s so many great, very macho lines in that movie, that it’s fun to quote them in a book like mine.

HH: We’ll go out with a little Magnificent Seven music.

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HH: Brad, during the break, I was answering a couple of tweets and a couple of congratulations amid all the Brad Thor adulation. And I wrote back to one of them, thanks, Diana, 14 years down, 16 to go, it’s going to take that long to fix the country. There’s a president, a post-Obama president in Act of War. It’s President Porter. I don’t think that’s too much of a spoiler. And you describe him this way. The president saw the economy as an Abrams tank that needed to be whacked with a gigantic wrench to get it going. He had no script, he had a vision for returning America to greatness. And either you were on board or you were tossed overboard. He made no secret of the kind of people that he wanted around him. Are you tipping your hand on what you want or who you predict’s going to win?

BT: Well, a little bit of both. I am, I was speaking not too long ago with my pal, Dennis Miller. And Dennis is rather pessimistic. And I said Dennis, I am optimistic. The DNA of liberty and freedom is woven into every one of us in America. I believe we will see morning in America again. And as you and I have discussed so many times, Hugh, we don’t own this country. We’re merely stewards of this republic waiting to hand it down better, stronger, faster, more secure, more prosperous to the next generation. So that president, I really, I looked at the Ian Fleming books, the James Bond books, and why those Bond books were so popular in their day. And a lot of it had to do with Britain’s view of itself receding on the world stage. And here came along James Bond to make people in Great Britain feel good about themselves. Even America, the soon to be lone superpower couldn’t get anything done without James Bond. And I said you know what? We’re not receding. Maybe we’ve got some issues now, but our best days are in front of us. And I wanted that in my fictional president. I want that to be portrayed. And I want it in my real president to say this is the greatest country in the history of the world, the greatest force for good in the history of the world, and it will be morning in America again.

HH: Just a little poker tell, Brad Thor’s new president has a cowboy rhetoric and a bold approach to problems. But he also has a secretary of the Treasury that looks like an aging bank president. So you can’t really tell, but it’s, you might be looking south for that next person if you were Brad Thor. Now Brad, I want to talk to Charlie in Mesa, because you’re going to be signing books at the Scottsdale Public Library, 5:00 on Saturday. So I’ll talk to Charlie as a way of reminding people in Arizona head over to the Scottsdale Public Library at 5:00 to meet Brad Thor. Charlie, you’ve got to be quick. I’ve got lots of ground to cover still with Brad.

Charlie. Okay, I hope he remembers a book by the name of Spy Catcher by Peter Wright, banned in England. My question is with regard to the two groups in China, military and the politicians, can there be something related to that happening in the United States in the near future?

HH: Oh, great question. Brad Thor?

BT: Well, I think China is a threat, and I think we need to keep our eyes on China. The weaker the United States gets, or I should say the greater the weakness we project is, the more concerned I get. You know, China’s got a thousand year plan. They’re very pragmatic. They need us to a certain degree, but what I don’t think people are getting is that things are much worse in China than they are letting on. There are a lot of problems over there, there’s civil unrest every day. They are out of fresh water, fresh air, and resources. And my concern is that we’re going to see a very desperate China start to spread its wings very soon.

HH: But I think what he was asking is do you think there’ll ever be a split between civilian and military to the extent that the military becomes a threat or an independent force in the United States? I don’t, but I want you to answer him directly. I think you might have missed what he was asking.

BT: I did miss. No, it’s intertwined. They draw from the military on purpose into the Standing Committee and other committees within the Communist Party. So they weave the military people in on purpose. So they are very, very thoroughly locked at the hip there. It is not a them and us sort of situation.

HH: Very interesting aspect of Act or War is your discussion of the princelings. And for reasons that people will have to discover why they matter so much, but they’re a real force now, the children of the oligarchs. In Russia, they’re called oligarchs. In China, they’re members of the government.

BT: They are, and that’s, it’s a big, big problem. And it’s funny, because it was an intelligence operative over here that’s a pal of mine that suggested I look at the princelings. And what’s going on with them and the problems that they pose for the Chinese Communist government, because they all come over here to get their education, and they get very westernized. And then they go back and drive Ferraris and Lamborghinis and wrap them around light poles, and it really messes up the narrative for their parents.

HH: Let’s also talk about one messed up narrative. You borrowed from recent history in talking about a NASA internship that the previous president, President Obama, established. And you quote him, you have an eye on our recent history as you wrote Act of War. But people are still going to think this is fiction. It’s not fiction.

BT: No. As a matter of fact, I used, it was, again, Hugh, if I went into my editor’s office and said I’m going to write a president that’s just had scandal after scandal after scandal, and I started with Fast & Furious and worked my way through the IRS and the VA, she’d laugh me out of her office. And this Muslim internship, this connection with NASA, where NASA, the new head of NASA was encouraged to go out and make Muslims around the world feel better about their culture. That was his number one job at NASA? It’s insane, but it really happened.

HH: It really did. And the president said that. The president directed him to that. And there’s an angle to this book about who came into the United States via that process. You also spent some time on our visa program, Brad Thor, and whenever we talk about immigration reform, I’m a big advocate of a border fence. But I know that the visa system is broken. It’s no answer to either to say do one and not the other. You’ve got to do both. But you really illustrate why even with our biometric uptick in security, it’s a broken, badly-deranged system.

BT: It is, and I would tell you this. The number one thing, if the immigration system needs to get fixed, is we’ve got to get high qualified candidates over here before anybody else. I mean, I’ve traveled the world and seen people standing in the rain, the sleet, the snow waiting just for a ticket to get into the lottery for a green card. I mean, there are good, talented people out there that we need in this country. And yet we seem to say oh, well, the only ones we should take or we want to take are the ones the other countries don’t want. And I think there’s a way to balance this, but if we can’t secure that border, we’re not really a nation.

HH: By the way, a great new character, Billy Tang. I’m not going to say much about him except he’s from Columbus, Ohio.

BT: Thank you. I’m glad you liked Billy, and it’s funny, one particular weapon that Billy used, I was with a guy who has employed the weapon similarly to Billy, and he was the one that drew my attention to it out at Shot Show in Las Vegas last year and said boy, I could tell you what I would do with that. And he kind of winked at me and I said I’ll go buy you a beer, and I want you to really tell me, and I took notes.

HH: And Billy Tang is a terrific, you know, I always look at when authors are developing characters who might end up in their own book doing their own thing. And Billy Tang is from Columbus. He didn’t play for the Buckeyes, but he might have. He would have been very useful. He has a special skill set.

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HH: Time to blow through some calls for Brad Thor, author extraordinaire. And let’s make them 30 second call and answers. Rhode Island, Johnny, you’re on the Hugh Hewitt Show with Brad Thor talking about his brand new book, Act of War. Go, Johnny.

Johnny: Okay, I had a quote, the best quotes from Magnificent Seven.

BT: Which one is it?

Johnny: If God had not wanted them to be sheared, he would not make them sheep.

BT: (Laughing)

HH: Well said, and by the way, the famous sheep, sheepdog and wolf analogy is employed here. My question in the middle of this, Brad, you chose to write about North Korea and the bleakness of it. How did you get information on it? And how did you convey what a vast prison camp it is with so little known about it?

BT: Well, I read an awesome non-fiction book that my neighbors had been reading, a couple of fathers kept pressing me, saying you’ve got to read this book, read it, read it, read it. It’s called Escape From Camp 14. It is the true account of the only known man born into a North Korean labor camp to have ever escaped. In North Korea, they believe if you commit a violation, your family, three generations of your family, must be taken out of society to pay for the crime to clean your bloodstream. And that’s what they do. It is terrifying over there, and I hope people get a real good look at North Korea through reading my thriller, Act of War.

HH: I think they are. I think it’s a public service. I’m going to talk to Nina Shea next hour, who has very strong opinions. She runs the Hudson Institute, Institute on Religious Freedom, and believes that North Korea is the least free place on the planet. Tim, Belmont, Texas, you’re on with Brad Thor. You’ve got to be quick, Tim.

Tim: Yeah, Brad, one of my favorite authors, and I’m reading Hidden Order now. Also, another one of my favorite authors was Vince Flynn who passed away earlier this year. Wondering if you might do a tip of the hat, a memorial and somehow in a future book mention Mitch Rapp along with Scot.

HH: Well, you may not have heard the news, Tim. They’re not, the series continues. And Brad, are you surprised by that decision?

BT: Not only am I surprised, I’m thrilled. I’m a big fan of Vince’s work, and the author who’s picking it up, Kyle Mills, is a good buddy of mine from before I was even an author. So that’s terrific.

HH: Oh, good news there. So there you have it, Tim. Last call, Steve in Los Angeles, you’ve got 30 seconds, Steve.

Steve: First, congratulations, Hugh, on both anniversaries. I’m a big Clancy fan, Mr. Thor. Is your style similar to his?

BT: I’m sorry, to who’s style?

HH: He said are you a bit Tom Clancy stylist? And I would say this. I won’t let him compliment himself. The most technical writer was Tom Clancy, and Brad Thor meets that standard. He gives you the absolute technical details, in fact, about the submersibles that the SEALs use, I was blown away by what you know. Brad Thor, congratulations on Act of War, another bestseller, another great book, another great interview. And have a great book tour. Thank you, Brad, for joining us.

BT: Happy anniversary, Hugh.

HH: Thank you.

End of interview.


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