Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America's Radical Right
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Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America's Radical Right

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  140 ratings  ·  45 reviews
A narrative history of the John Birch Society by a daughter of one of the infamous ultraconservative organization’s founding fathers.

Named a best nonfiction book of 2013 by Kirkus Reviews and the Tampa Bay Times

Long before the rise of the Tea Party movement and the prominence of today’s religious Right, the John Birch Society, first established in 1958, championed many of...more
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published July 2nd 2013 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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Michael Austin
WRAPPED IN THE FLAG is a well-written, compelling memoir of a political movement that most Americans know almost nothing about. During the Cold War, the John Birch Society defined the far-right wing of American politics. Born in the aftermath of the McCarthy Hearings, it was originally organized to continue McCarthy's work--to oppose communism in all of its forms and to root out communists and communist sympathizers in American government and culture. As the group developed, it folded more and m...more
Claire Conner
Sep 21, 2013 Claire Conner rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
After spending five years writing, it was a thrill to read my own book. I look forward to hearing from my reading friends after they've finished Wrapped in the Flag. Remember, book is on shelves on today. Pick it up at your local bookstore or in your local library. You can also order on line at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie Books, or Audible books.
Wrapped in the Flag is a beautifully written book on Claire Conner's life growing up with extremely radical parents. The day I received it in the mail I began reading it and I was unable to put it down. I found her story fascinating and learned much about the John Birch Society through her passages.

The author had a very unconventional upbringing as her parents were actively involved in the politics of the radical right. She was indoctrinated a a young age by her parents' views and was not allowe...more
victor harris
If you think the John Birch Society were a passing lunatic fad of the 50s and 60s, think again. They have just mutated and wear the cloak of modern conservatives and fundamentalists. Claire Conner was there at the beginning when she was a child and her parents were prominent members of the Birchers. This is an excellent example of how ideologues love to create commotion through outlandish conspiracy theories, and regardless of the evidence that refutes them, they dig in their heels to hold to th...more
Must read!!! Well written! Great information. I was also a young wife of a John Bircher and found this 100% accurate
The author grew up in a family rabidly conservative during the time of the Cold War, the Viet Nam war and the civil rights movement. This was a time of major societal upheaval as the structure of American society was terrorized by the Communist "menace", the assassination of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. African Americans were fighting for their rights, the feminist movement was being born and the right to an abortion was made the law of the land.

The politics of toda...more
Gus diZerega
I grew up a young ultra conservative in Wichita, Kansas, another strong hold of the Birch Society. A young conservative activist in high school, I often was a guest at JBS meetings. Though my parents were not members and not the horrors Conner describes, I knew enough people like them to find her memories of her childhood sadly believable. And her description of the right wing personality and beliefs was in keeping with my experience, though Wichita at the time had a few more libertarians involv...more
Wrapped in the Flag is an account of 50 years of family history told by the daughter of parents whose far right ideology flattens all thinking into conformity with a view that a virtuous minority is under assault from an all-powerful force that guides a foolish, ignorant, deluded nation. This is a tragic escape story, well written and persuasive.

It is a horror story in that the tag-team of Mom and Dad have no emotions but rage and fear, and no plan for their children but to reproduce their rigid...more
Peter Mcloughlin
Claire Conner grew up in a family that was very active in the John Birch society. Her family knew Robert Welch a main financial backer of the society who was good friends with Rousas John Rushdooney the father of Christian reconstructionism which wishes to put America under biblical law and under the dominion of Christians like themselves. Her life intersects with the likes of Brent Bozell and Phyllis Schafly who it is revealed in the book had in fact joined the Birch Society before dropping ou...more
Re Heubel
There might be two good reasons to read this book: one, to try to understand the thinking and psychology behind ultra-conservative Americans - in this case, the John Birch Society - and two, to get a feel for American political history from the 1950's Cold War to the Clinton presidency and the rightwing's years long crusade to impeach Clinton after having lost to him - twice - at the polls.

What is most surprising to me (almost shocking, in fact) is the recycling of rightwing rhetoric and argumen...more
If you are a Dr. Strangelove fan this memoir will help you appreciate that film's satire by shedding light on some of the political psychosis of the era. The author’s parents were traditional Catholics and dedicated members of the John Birch Society during the turbulent days of the Red Scare, anti-Communist witch hunts, and Vietnam all the way through post-9/11 America (Mary Kay Letourneau makes a brief and unexpected appearance). Examples of her parent’s paranoid religious & political lunac...more
Bobby Sullivan
I have no earthly idea how Claire Conner grew up with such a spirit of empathy for others, having been raised by parents who had no empathy, only fear. This book is fascinating in its details about the origins of the Radical Right. Funny and tragic how they never recognized that extreme Right politics (Fascism) results in Totalitarianism, just as extreme Left politics (Communism) does.
I just finished reading Claire's book! It was amazing! I knew some things about JBS but this was quite an eye opener. I had only heard about JBS a few years ago in the Tea Party craze that swept this country. I quite enjoyed that it had a personal story to it rather than reading a stack of dry texts. The story really brought the issues to life. Well done Claire!
A narrative from the belly of the beast is always intriguing. It is especially intriguing if the writer is self aware and critical. The beast in question is the American far right and in particularity the John Birch Society. The writer of the memoir is Claire Conner. Her parents were heavy hitters in the John Birch Society and a myriad of other far right causes. Claire can never remember her parents NOT being right wing cranks. So this is the story of her relationship with them and by extension...more
Aug 26, 2013 Skjam! rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history buffs, biography readers
Recommended to Skjam! by: Goodreads
Disclaimer: I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway on the premise that I would review it.

This is an autobiography of Claire Conner, daughter of Stillwell J. Conner, one of the first members of the John Birch Society and one of its most fierce advocates. In it, she shares the history of her family’s involvement with the notorious right-wing organization, and her personal journey from loyal but naive supporter of her parents’ cause through skepticism and eventually to rejection.

The John...more
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. At first my interest was to learn more about the John Birch Society, of which I knew relatively little.

I was surprised to find that this was a comprehensive and thorough study of the rise of the radical right from a woman who had literally been weened on anti-communist rhetoric by her staunchly Catholic, right-wing parents. Co-opted to join the society at the tender age of 13, an age when most of us hardly know what politics is, Ms. Conner was...more
"Wrapped in the Flag" is the memoir of Claire Conner, who grew up in one of the foremost families of the Bircher cult. (Fortunately, she was able to grow up and *out* of it!) From personal experience and meticulous documentation, she chronicles the ugly, shameful roots, and the legacy of today's version of the GOP, which calls itself the "religious right" and "patriotic" Tea Party.
A very personal memoir by a woman who grew up in a family where the parents were high-ranking members of the John Birch Society. I was struck about how much of the JBS agenda is still being pushed today. Even young, it seems something in the back of the author's mind was trying to tell her how wrong all she was seeing was.
Kathy Hughes
Claire Conner does a superb job connecting her personal experiences with the John Birch Society with the Society's history and resurgence in modern American politics. It is a cautionary tale that anyone who cares about the country should read. Highly recommended!
A completely depressing account of how racists, paranoid fearmongers, and violent minds hijacked conservatism. Apparently it started a long time ago, and is no modern blip for the unfortunate and unhappy Republican party. Not sure what I'm supposed to do now, or even think now; I'd kept the faith before that the rage would eventually burn out, and soon. But this thing has been growing since the late 1950s- at least.

I am a liberal but I give all my sympathy to conservatives who can't figure out h...more
Ali Beckman
Wanted very much to like this book, as I was interested in learning about the John Birch society and I agree with the current politics of the author. But this was SO difficult to read, as it was written in such an amateurish manner. About 2/3 of the way through the book, I figured out what her style reminded me of--a high school term paper! Very well-researched (hundreds of footnotes), but hackneyed. In each chapter, she would lay out the points she wanted to make about a particular event or sub...more
This was a really interesting memoir of growing up with devout John Birch Society parents. It was really interesting to see just how precisely the Tea Party today echoes this group -- from crying about how health care for the poor means the end of freedom, to simply being against anything that President Kennedy endorsed (and then being for it if it were endorsed by a right wing Republican), and the reflexive calling of Kennedy and any action he took as "communist."

It was also interesting to see...more
In the grand tradition of personal nonfiction, this book weaves a personal story about growing up with rabidly far-right-wing parents with a more journalistic perspective on the history of the John Birch Society... and the two stories create something rather less than the sum of their parts. It's understandable that the author would want to avoid psychoanalyzing her parents or delving too deeply into her own shifts in political perspective, but without a willingness to cut closer to the bone the...more
Teresa Selove
A very informative book I couldn't put down!
Every single American should read this to get a first hand account of how the John Birch Society wormed it's way into our lives and the influence they continue to have today before it's too late.
The narrative style makes it most pleasant reading. The eyewitness recounting of actual events in our history, such as the time of JFK's assassination, is informative and makes clear what is at stake if we continue to allow extremist right wingers, such as the...more
A Wow! book. I knew the author, slightly when she lived in Marshfield. She has done a 180 degree turn in her thinking - all for the better.
Amazing how Conner's parents' paranoia in the 1950's exactly mirrors the sentiment of a large percentage of the population today. This was a very good historical account of a respectable family's descent into fanaticism. I'm glad the author and her siblings managed to avoid the heavy brainwashing attempted by her parents. My only complaint is, I would have liked to have seen some photos of her family and the people discussed in the book. I did find photos on the author's website.
Wendy Johnson
This is an autobiography by Claire Conner of her life growing up in a politically extremist environment. Her parents were some of the first people to join the John Birch Society and was very actively involved with the leaders of the organization. I originally picked up this book to try to help me understand the foundation of today's current Tea Party. As I read the book, the similarities between the two are nearly identical. Claire was actually the youngest member ever to join the JBS. She helpe...more
Excellent first person account of growing up in a family where both parents were heavily involved in the John Birch Society. This memoir is very relevant to politics today, as many of these same Right wing ideologies and conspiracy theories are once again bubbling to the surface through the Tea Party. The Koch brothers' father was also active in the origin and development of the John Birch Society.
Patrick L.
A very enlightening look inside the John Birch Society from a person who grew up within the organization. It gives a clear unvarnished picture of what the radical right is all about and how it has adapted to the current political climate as well as driving much of the debate!
Sean Pratt
Excellent book. If you have never heard of the John Birch Society or have but never understood what they were about, this book is for you.

The author's story is very sad. Her parents fanaticism made them look at their own flesh and blood as enemies.
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Great News!!

Wrapped in the Flag was named as "The Best in 2013 in Nonfiction" by Kirkus Reviews. Kirkus reviews over 7,000 books every year and my book was one of only 17 in the memoir category named to the best list.

Claire was twelve years old when her parents dove into the world of paranoid politics, a world dominated by the John Birch Society, an anti-Communist, anti-federal government movemen...more
More about Claire Conner...
Wrapped in the Flag: What I Learned Growing Up in America's Radical Right, How I Escaped, and Why My Story Matters Today Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America's Radical Right

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