“Cleon Skousen was truly a giant. I encourage everyone to read the story of this great man, which will inspire you to join the cause of liberty.” — Senator Mike Lee
“It’s difficult to overstate how big a name W. Cleon Skousen was when I was growing up in California. His influence continues to echo into the 21st century.” – Dan Peterson, BYU Professor
During the early stages of World War II, J. Edgar Hoover, the demanding FBI director, was upset when one of his assistants made a clerical blunder at Washington D.C. headquarters.
“Where’s Skousen?” he yelled.
During this critical time, my uncle, W. Cleon Skousen, was the “indispensable” communications director for the FBI.
But on that day Cleon was on annual leave. When Hoover found out, he demanded, “Get this other fellow out of there and bring back Skousen!”
Cleon was in charge of communications at FBI headquarters when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and sent out the first memo to all FBI agents to “round up the usual suspects.”
It was the beginning of an illustrious career that spanned the rest of the 20th century. At the height of his career as an FBI special agent, chief of police in Salt Lake City, beloved BYU professor and founder of the Freemen Institute, Cleon Skousen was a crusader extraordinaire — he wrote bestselling books on communism, the Constitution and the Bible that sold millions of copies. He also gave thousands of speeches on the restored gospel and threats to our constitutional rights to standing-room only crowds.
My uncle died in 2006, but even today whenever I travel people come up to me and say, “Are you related to Cleon Skousen?”
I answer with enthusiasm, “Yes, he was my uncle and was like a father to me after my own father passed away when I was 16.”
Here’s a longer answer: My own father died of cancer at age 46, leaving behind 10 children that my mother had to raise (she was 39!). I was only 16 at the time. My uncle, who was quite famous for his bestselling book The Naked Communist, and his Thousand Year books about the Bible, stayed close to our family when we moved to Utah, and he became in many ways my second father. My wife Jo Ann and I visited Cleon and Jewel at their home in Salt Lake on many occasions. I was a pallbearer at his funeral in 2006.
How Relevant is W. Cleon Skousen Today?
Cleon Skousen’s influence has lived beyond his death. His Thousand Year books are still popular when the Church assigns the Bible in Sunday School classes. As many have noted, he brings the Bible alive like no other writer.
In 2011, TV and radio host Glenn Beck discovered Cleon’s book The 5,000 Year Leap, and his endorsement caused it to go to #1 on Amazon. He wrote in the introduction, “When I die, there are two people I want to meet, and one of them is Cleon Skousen. Have you ever read a book that literally changed your life? The Five Thousand Year Leap would solve every problem we have in America.”
My uncle kept regular private journals during his long life. Going through them, my wife Jo Ann and I discovered that his personal writings have much value today.
Why There Will Never be Peace Between the Arabs and the Jews
For example, when war broke out recently between Israel and the Palestinians, the Economist magazine asked, “Can you envisage a peaceful end to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and if so, how?”
Cleon, who led two dozen tours to the Middle East in his lifetime and authored Fantastic Victory: Israel’s Rendezvous with Destiny, answered that question in his private journal:
“Because Ezekiel and other Old Testament prophets describe Israel as the final inheritance of the Jews, many people cannot understand why the Arabs insist that the entire land belongs to them and that they, the Arabs, are the Lord’s chosen people. The rationale of the Arabs is this: The Jews were once the chosen people, but all of the Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled when Cyrus allowed the Jews to return from Babylon in 587 BC. They built their new temple, which was dedicated in 516 BC, but then they became so wicked that they were driven out of Israel by the Romans in 70 AD. The Arabs believe that God then made the Arabs His chosen people and made Palestine, or the Holy Land, their inheritance. They believe the Jews robbed them of their land in the war of 1967, and they will not be satisfied until they get it back.
“It is obvious from these opposite interpretations of the Bible that there will never be permanent peace between these two peoples until the Savior comes and ‘every knee shall bow and every tongue confess’ that He is the God they both worship. Meanwhile, bitterness prevails. The Jews tried to make the land bi-racial, but no matter how conciliatory they’ve tried to be, the Arabs feel they have been robbed, and they won’t be satisfied until they get it all back.”
Announcing a New Book
Now, after three years of work by my wife Jo Ann and I, his personal story can be told for the first time, in his own words, revealing never-before-published details about his personal and family life, his six careers and his influence with top government and religious leaders, and the challenges of our times. The book includes over 190 rare photographs and newspaper clippings.
The book is now out: “There Were Giants in the Land: Episodes in the Life of W. Cleon Skousen.”
The late Senator Orrin Hatch wrote the foreword: “Cleon had witty, humorous, twinkling eyes, sparkling eyes that would light up every time you started talking about our country, the Constitution and the beautiful land we live in. Cleon’s eyes witnessed the highs and lows of our modern era, yet he always had a positive outlook.”
Cleon Skousen was a master storyteller and spell-bounding speaker, whether it was about the history of communism, the Bible, the Constitution or the greatness of America. He was a family man who, with his wife Jewel, raised five boys and three girls.
Labeled the “Constitutional guru” of the conservative movement by the New York Times, Cleon Skousen constantly defended our Constitutional rights and warned America about the dangers of communism, which he regarded as “the greatest threat to liberty on the earth today.”
‘Giants’ is Banned in China!
His anti-communist crusade got him into trouble, even after his death. When our publisher tried to print a low-cost edition of the book in China, the Chinese government intervened and prohibited his book from being published in China.
The printer wrote us, “I was informed that China won’t allow it to be printed in any mainland printer due to its contents, what they referred to as ‘sensitive material.’”
Our publisher chose to print it in “free” South Korea at a slightly higher cost.
–Why 1913, the year of his birth, became a special year in Cleon’s drive to achieve political success. “God gave me a mission in life to fight the three political mistakes of 1913!” (See p. 308-309).
–Working with the “ruthless” J. Edgar Hoover during his 16 years with the FBI, plus Skousen’s encounters with gangsters Mickey Cohen, Bugsy Siegel and “Machine Gun” Kelly (49-51, 80-84, 88-90, 270-271).
–A Church leader predicts in the summer of 1939, “There will be war!” which leads to Cleon’s first book, “Prophecy and Modern Times.” (59-60)
–Behind the scenes at the FBI headquarters on the Day of Infamy, December 7, 1941, when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor (73-74).
–Cleon’s scariest assignment: planting a telephone bug in gangster Mickey Cohen’s house in LA. Suddenly, someone yelled, “Shhhh! The FBI!” (81-82).
–Meeting famed “Gone with the Wind” actress Olivia de Havilland and how he used a secret tape to show how she was being duped by a Communist front organization: Her surprising reaction (85-87).
–His confrontation with an atheist professor and later a debate with the son of notorious atheist Madalyn O’Hair (38-42, 383-385).
–His courtship of his high-school sweetheart Jewel Pitcher, and the secret to their marriage that lasted 74 years (43-44, 166, 479-480).
–What it was like raising five boys and three girls, and why his faithful wife Jewel should be the co-author of Cleon’s book, So You Want to Raise a Boy (206-209).
–The real reason Skousen was fired as chief of police of Salt Lake City in 1960 (168-169).
–How President David O. McKay’s public endorsement in General Conference (October 1959) made The Naked Communist an overnight bestseller, selling over two million copies (153-154, 160-161).
–Cleon’s appearance on nationwide TV at the Hollywood Bowl on October 16, 1961, with John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Senator George Murphy and Ronald Reagan in “Hollywood’s Answer to Communism” (193-198).
–Cleon’s friendship with Hollywood producer Cecil B. DeMille and his role in the filming of “The Ten Commandments” (136-140).
–Friendships with the Osmonds (373-375, 385), Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (166, 195), Art Linkletter (300-302), Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly (442-443) and economist Milton Friedman (299-300).
–Did Elvis Presley read Cleon’s “First 2,000 Years”?! (351-352).
–His special relationship with Ronald Reagan, and the behind-the-scenes reason why Reagan was forced to add George W. Bush Sr. to the Presidential ticket in 1980 (243-244, 331-332, 380-381, 387).
–How his Freemen Institute helped elect Utah Senator Orrin Hatch; their close friendship (290-292, 308-309, 322-324, 365-367).
–Cleon’s 70-year close relationship with Ezra Taft Benson as Secretary of Agriculture under Eisenhower and later as president of the LDS Church.
How to Order the First Edition
The first edition of “There Were Giants in the Land,” is available in hardback only and is 544 pages long, with lots of photographs spread throughout the text. Both Jo Ann and I wrote introductions, and an index.
It is beautifully designed and will be a keepsake to be read and re-read. Every page is full of interesting stories and commentaries, all relevant to today’s hot political, economic and cultural issues.
It is now in stock and available in Deseret Bookstores, and on Amazon, or through our own website, www.skousenbooks.com. (A Kindle version and audiobook are in the works.)