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

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  233 Ratings  ·  53 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
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published July 2nd 2013 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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Michael Austin
Jul 10, 2013 Michael Austin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2013
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 it was amazing  ·  (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.
Nov 07, 2016 Clif rated it liked it
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
Jun 22, 2013 Julie rated it really liked it
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
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
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
victor harris
Sep 01, 2013 victor harris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-history
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
Bobby Sullivan
Aug 10, 2013 Bobby Sullivan rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 01, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing
Must read!!! Well written! Great information. I was also a young wife of a John Bircher and found this 100% accurate
Aug 21, 2014 Ali rated it it was ok
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
Gus diZerega
Jul 22, 2014 Gus diZerega rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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
Aaron VanAlstine
Jul 31, 2013 Aaron VanAlstine rated it liked it
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
Aug 25, 2013 Millie rated it it was ok
I was hoping for some insight into how some people could ignore facts and logic and fall into extremism. But there was no such revelation in this book. And maybe that's because there just is no explanation. But without that, this book was just a memoir of a life that was only marginally interesting.
Sarah Jamison
Jul 18, 2015 Sarah Jamison rated it it was ok
Y'all, how should I start? Technicalities. Let's start with technicalities. This isn't history. The personal part in the title is extremely important. It's a memoir. It's a boomer memoir of 1950s and 1960s by a woman who hates her parents. There were also a number of editing errors-- places where words were spelled correctly but completely contextually wrong, like "check" where "click" was clearly the verb she was going for. That made me question whether or not this was vanity published. And whi ...more
Sep 18, 2013 Rob rated it really liked it
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
Nov 24, 2013 Sieglinde rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is an autobiographical history of the John Birch Society written by one of the daughters of one of the founding members and council members of the JBS. If you think the funky little far-right group from the 60's is irrelavent, read this book. The ideas and methods of the JBS are still being used and are influential over the Republican Party. The Koch Brothers father was a leading member of it and they are financing the Tea Party movement and extreme candidates. The book is written in a live ...more
Jul 03, 2013 Holly rated it it was amazing
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!
Nov 22, 2013 Greg rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 02, 2013 Sally rated it it was amazing
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.
Bob Anderson
Jun 25, 2015 Bob Anderson rated it it was amazing
One of my intellectual endeavors is to read about the political realities of America in the time periods when I was either not alive or not politically aware, and when older people were. How can I correctly interpret the claims politicians and pundits make about the way things were if I don’t know the truth? For instance, the Tea Party was portrayed by many, not just its supporters, as an unprecedented, revolutionary, breath-of-fresh-air movement. Of course, it wasn’t, it was just another in the ...more
Elizabeth Burton
Feb 28, 2016 Elizabeth Burton rated it really liked it
Those who didn't grow up during the reign of the John Birch Society likely find the current Tea Party shenanigans unfathomable. If, however, one understand the Tea Party is no more nor less than the firstborn child of the Birchers and wants to expand that understanding, Ms. Conner's memoir is an important source of information.

Ms. Conner was 13 when her parents, who had always been ultra-conservative and contemptuous of the New Deal's programs, became among the first to join the newly establishe
Nov 17, 2015 Leslie rated it it was amazing
FDR was a Communist ! Harry S. Truman was a Communist ! Dwight D. Eisenhower was a Communist !! MAYBE I'm a Communist. The president of the PTA is very likely a Communist. Ask her what her fav color is. I bet it's RED. You see, I know all this because I just finished reading "Wrapped in the flag: a personal history of America's radical right". The author is the daughter of dedicated members of the John Birch Society. She was enlisted at the age of 12 to go door-to-door on behalf of the Society. ...more
Teresa Selove
Jun 01, 2014 Teresa Selove rated it it was amazing
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
I have virtually got nothing done since I started reading this book. I am very close to the same age as the author, but I knew very little about the John Birch Society until reading this. What an eye opener. I now have a much better understanding of the Tea Party and where they got all their radical beliefs. I keep hoping the Tea Party will just go away, but I realize now that's not going to happen. Very scary!
Apr 27, 2014 Bryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Carol Reed
Dec 29, 2013 Carol Reed rated it it was amazing
This book is almost required reading for young to middle-aged people today. Reading it and seeing the parallels to today's political climate was like deja vu! I liked Claire Conner's straightforward style. She didn't demonize her parents, yet didn't sentimentalize them either. If I were a political science teacher, I would have my students read this book.
Scott Saari
Jun 15, 2014 Scott Saari rated it really liked it
Reading this book made me understand that the so-called Tea Party and paranoid delusionals like Allen West descend from fringe activists like the Birch Society. It puts many current events in proper perspective. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the roots of ultraconservatism better.
Kathy Hughes
Jul 06, 2013 Kathy Hughes rated it it was amazing
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!
Jim Blessing
Sep 13, 2013 Jim Blessing rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
This book revealed the inconsistencies and nuttiness of the right-wing of the Republican party, which now is represented by the tea party nuts. As was true of the John Birch Society nuts, who I well remember, they never let their beliefs differ in terms of blatant facts.
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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 about Claire Conner...

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“He also had his proof that bureaucracy made small problems into big problems. India convinced Dad that Britain, which he called socialist England, had delayed the Allied victory in World War II by an entire year.” 0 likes
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