Read Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America's Radical Right by Claire Conner Online

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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 oA 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 the same radical causes touted by ultraconservatives today, including campaigns against abortion rights, gay rights, gun control, labor unions, environmental protections, immigrant rights, social and welfare programs, the United Nations, and even water fluoridation. Worshipping its anti-Communist hero Joe McCarthy, the Birch Society is perhaps most notorious for its red-baiting and for accusing top politicians, including President Dwight Eisenhower, of being Communist sympathizers. It also labeled John F. Kennedy a traitor and actively worked to unseat him. The Birch Society boasted a number of notable members, including Fred Koch, father of Charles and David Koch, who are using their father’s billions to bankroll fundamentalist and right-wing movements today. The daughter of one of the society’s first members and a national spokesman about the society, Claire Conner grew up surrounded by dedicated Birchers and was expected to abide by and espouse Birch ideals. When her parents forced her to join the society at age thirteen, she became its youngest member of the society. From an even younger age though, Conner was pressed into service for the cause her father and mother gave their lives to: the nurturing and growth of the JBS. She was expected to bring home her textbooks for close examination (her mother found traces of Communist influence even in the Catholic school curriculum), to write letters against “socialized medicine” after school, to attend her father’s fiery speeches against the United Nations, or babysit her siblings while her parents held meetings in the living room to recruit members to fight the war on Christmas or (potentially poisonous) water fluoridation. Conner was “on deck” to lend a hand when JBS notables visited, including founder Robert Welch, notorious Holocaust denier Revilo Oliver, and white supremacist Thomas Stockheimer. Even when she was old enough to quit in disgust over the actions of those men, Conner found herself sucked into campaigns against abortion rights and for ultraconservative presidential candidates like John Schmitz. It took momentous changes in her own life for Conner to finally free herself of the legacy of the John Birch Society in which she was raised. In Wrapped in the Flag, Claire Conner offers an intimate account of the society —based on JBS records and documents, on her parents’ files and personal writing, on historical archives and contemporary accounts, and on firsthand knowledge—giving us an inside look at one of the most radical right-wing movements in US history and its lasting effects on our political discourse today....

Title : Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America's Radical Right
Author :
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ISBN : 9780807077504
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 264 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America's Radical Right Reviews

  • Michael Austin
    2018-10-14 02:32

    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 more conservative causes into the general umbrella of the "International Communist Conspiracy"--a highly organized and well-funded superorganism that included labor unions, civil rights organizations, universities, public schools, the news media, and, minimally, two American presidents: Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.The essential facts about the Birch Society are now part of the historical record. What Conner gives us are the feelings of a thoughtful, intelligent young woman who grew up in and around the Society and had to learn how to balance family loyalty with her growing discomfort with what the Birchers stood for. Claire Conner had a front-row seat at the birth and development of the John Birch Society. Her parents were personal friends of JBS founder Robert Welch, her father was a longtime member of the organization's leadership team, and much of her life was defined by the extremist politics of her parents and their friends. She writes poignantly of being a high school student and reading John Howard Griffen's BLACK LIKE ME, or of watching Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech on TV, and realizing how inadequately her received opinions had prepared her to understand the role of race in America. And she writes with great compassion about the conflicts that her emerging liberalism (or, at least, her non-ultra-conservatism) caused between her and the parents she continued to love.Conner does a good job of presenting the Birch Society's political rhetoric in a way that makes it easy to generalize to other extremist groups. The JBS had a single narrative through which it viewed all political events--that a global communist conspiracy had infiltrated America and was working to overthrow liberty and the Constitution. They seized on anything that could support this narrative and explained everything that contradicted it terms derived from the narrative itself. Rational reflection, critical thinking, and linear reasoning could occur only within the boundaries of the narrative, which was always capable of absorbing challenges into its structure and neutralizing them. This is how extremists of all stripes see the world--including (quite ironically) the Stalin-era Soviets against whom the Birch Society so firmly stood.Modern readers will, and should, draw comparisons between the Cold War John Birch Society and the modern Tea Party Movement. Conner draws plenty of lines that we can follow. In the first place, much of the original funding for the Birch Society came from Kansas industrialist Fred Koch, whose sons Charles and David now bankroll many Tea Party groups and causes. Furthermore, the JBS support of Barry Goldwater in 1964 created many of the activists who worked for Ronald Reagan in 1980--who, in turn, serves as a primary inspiration for much of the far right today. And, from Goldwater to Reagan to Ted Cruz, many of the core objectives of the far right have remained constant for the last sixty years: scaling back the federal government, supporting state's rights, returning American to its Christian roots, and fighting "the enemy," whoever that enemy might be.One of the most important things that WRAPPED IN THE FLAG shows us, then, is that modern Tea Party conservatism is inherently anachronistic. It is designed for a context that no longer exists. Its obsessive concern for states' rights, for example, traces back to the Civil Rights Movement, during which the federal government had to nationalize guard troops in Mississippi and Alabama to integrate schools. It is entirely out of proportion fifty years later. And the Tea Party's deep Cold War roots cause it to conceptualize "Terrorism" (which is actually a tactic) and "Islam" (which is actually a billion very different people) in the same way that the John Birch Society conceptualized communism: as deep, unified conspiracies that allows us to fit everything that happens in the world into a single, black-and-white narrative. "We" are on the side of freedom, while "they" (which includes most American politicians and especially President Obama) want to destroy what makes America great. And because the Tea Party, like the John Birch Society, can only reason effectively within the boundaries of its own narrative, it, like Claire Conner's parents, cannot seriously engage, or compromise, with views that contradict its core assumptions.Understanding the story of the John Birch Society is essential to understanding the rise and persistence of the Tea Party. Beyond that, the JBS gives us an excellent lens for understanding extremist movements of every era and ideology. Because she has such in-depth experience with her subject, Claire Conner is uniquely qualified to write a book like WRAPPED IN THE FLAG. And because she is both a deep thinker and an engaging writer, we should be grateful that she did.

  • Claire Conner
    2018-10-10 20:31

    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.

  • Clif
    2018-09-14 21:45

    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 views in a new generation. There isn't a single tender moment between adults and children. Every mealtime is a lecture, every school book must be examined for communist influence. That Claire Conner emerged from this environment a sane person is a miracle.Since Jay Conner, the author's father, was a force in the John Birch Society, the family history offers the chance for the story of right-wing politics in the United States to be woven throughout. Only Barry Goldwater emerges unscathed in Mom and Dad's eyes. Not even Ronald Reagan could live up to the demands of the far right and the founder of the JBS even claimed Ike was a commie. Claire Conner introduces us to a rogues gallery of what would now be called wing-nuts, such as Revilo Oliver (Google him).I've known people like the ones described in this book - extremely cold, bitterly denouncing, tightly restrained but filled with anger and fearful alarm, convinced that force is the answer to anything be it foreign or family affairs. And yet these folks see themselves as exemplars of an ideal that all should emulate! There is no way to debate them because their views are fixed beyond the power of evidence to alter.A common denominator for the members of the group is being white, and this is no accident as fear and anger pervade white rural and suburban America today just as it did in the South before the Civil Rights Movement went some way to de-fang it. One of the most moving parts of the book occurs when Claire Conner happens to see ML King Jr. speaking to the March on Washington on TV. His eloquence reaches her youthful, still open mind, but until she leaves for college (paying her own way), she is prisoner in her own home. Because this far right movement is white, I am optimistic when I read of the falling percentage of Americans who are white, even though I am white. Bring on the Hispanics, the Asians, the African-Americans, the immigrants. We need an antidote to those who fear and hate and demand a rigid conformity that is bleak and intolerant and brings them no joy. All they seem to want is to judge, condemn and throw a wrench into the works, even as they get misty-eyed about Jesus.In their self-righteousness and intolerance, the far right is much more closely related to the Taliban than they are to the American revolutionaries they claim to admire; those who desired liberty and justice for all individuals in the pursuit of happiness.As Claire Conner relates, these folks have taken over the Republican Party, though the book stops before the election of Obama, we see the evidence in Congress daily. The book doesn't pretend to study the link between the John Birch Society and the Tea Party, it is after all only a family history, but the inference is clear to any reader.

  • Julie
    2018-09-22 20:19

    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 allowed to think or feel differently than they did. When she attempted to placate them or rebel, her parents became verbally abusive.I think this book most exemplifies the problem with our world right now. Extreme viewpoints only work when everyone feels the same way. As soon as one or more people feel differently, there is bound to be fear, paranoia and a clashing of views. I have long since felt that America as a country will be in extreme turmoil going forward. There is no middle ground between accepting everything (the liberal left) and accepting that some behaviors are unacceptable (the conservative right). As a libertarian I had some trouble reading this book and I think anyone who is Catholic, conservative or on the right will have some of the same problems. She paints a terrible picture of anyone who leans to the right and like most liberal thinkers, seems to believe that unless you embrace everything, you are not a good human being. Most of the people I know learn to the right, are fiscally conservative and believe in the tenant of working hard. We all love our country (just like the liberals do) and want to make it the best place we can for our children and all it's citizens. We differ on how best to do that but we are not ignorant haters, nor are we unfeeling. It has often been said that you have to believe in something or you'll fall for anything. Frankly, I find that a welcome change from the ignorant, apathetic people who seem to live in this country. Unfortunately, the author's parents believed so strongly in their cause that they greatly hurt their daughter. This book is an account of being raised with passionate parents who championed a cause that she disagreed with and did not embrace. If you are looking for an unbiased viewpoint, this is not the book for you. If you are looking for a book to confirm your feelings about the radical right, you will very much enjoy reading Ms. Conner's account. This book details all of the problems with the radical right going back to the 1950s. Extremism on any side (be it political, religious or ethnic) is not pretty. After reading this book I can see why the author has chosen to go the opposite direction - when something is forced down our throat it is hard to swallow. While I don't agree with most of the author's views, the book is so well-written and captivating that I am glad to have read it. *Received this book for free though Goodreads First Reads.

  • victor harris
    2018-09-15 20:20

    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 their absurd positions. A good read for those wishing more insight into the modern mindset of the Tea Party types and their forerunners.

  • Bobby Sullivan
    2018-09-29 03:44

    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.

  • Susan
    2018-10-14 02:20

    Must read!!! Well written! Great information. I was also a young wife of a John Bircher and found this 100% accurate

  • Denise
    2018-09-30 02:29

    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 today have been dramatically influenced by a little-known organization called the John Birch Society--founded in the 1950's. The author's parents were members of this group from the beginning. She details its rise and how political notables were influenced by it. A group that promoted the status quo of white rights, the suppression of African Americans, and the dismantling of the New Deal policies of FDR and the social programs of LBJ. Using the terrors of Communism, racial riots, feminism, and religious damnation, the Republican party has manipulated America since the time of Eisenhower. And it got many of its ideas from the Society. The Tea Party and the Koch Brothers' ALEC organization owe much to the John Birch Society. Anti-union, anti-tax, anti-government and anti-minorities, this group has produced misery and harm to our economy and our citizens. And the influence of the Society has not ended. The next time you hear a member of the Tea Party chanting "Take Our Country Back" you don't have to wonder where it came from. It was first used by the John Birch Society.

  • Gus diZerega
    2018-10-10 03:36

    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 involved, that mellowed the Birchers a little bit. I was intrigued that the same events and in the same order started her exit from identification with the movement as was the case for me. First civil rights, then Vietnam, than gay rights. Another fascinating similarity was the similarities of her experience with that of kids who wrote books describing their upbringing by parents who were loyal Communists. In both cases the children were secondary to The Cause and valued in large part by their utility to it. An attitude that spilled over into their other personal relationships. The totalitarian mentality is similar regardless of the ideology.

  • Peter Mcloughlin
    2018-10-04 00:29

    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 out when she became a national figure as an antifeminist crusader. The Birch society which grew out of the McCarthy witch hunts was active in the fifties and the sixties and accused Kennedy of being a communist and a traitor (sound familiar). Her parents seemed to believe and promulgate every right wing conspiracy there has been including stuff on Jews, communists, the freemasons, the U.N., the New World order and so on. It sounds like a laundry list of villains from the tea party movement. This book gives an insider look at right wing true believers and what it is like to grow up in a family that did their part to make this fringe movement mainstream.

  • Re Heubel
    2018-09-28 00:45

    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 arguments from the John Birch Society by today's Tea Party and other winger conservatives. Their political agendas are almost identical, be it fear of communists and socialists running rampant in the White House and Congress, or the unwanted degrading of the society by non-white and immigrant Americans, or to the all-consuming, fanatical, politiico-religious mission that these groups pursue.This book helps explain the present day Tea Party's intellectual roots.

  • Ali
    2018-09-14 21:30

    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 subject, using her sources, then try to make it personal with "actual" examples from her life. Unfortunately, these anecdotes sounded completely manufactured, from the stilted dialogue with her parents (nothing but right wing dogma, paranoia, unreasonable demands, and personal insults), to placing herself either at historical events (JBS meetings, the Kennedy assassination) or "secretly" watching events on TV her parents would never condone (MLK "I Have a Dream" speech), or happening to read a magazine/newspaper with a particular headline/story she referenced (even though this magazine goes against what her parents believed and no one could imagine they would have a subscription). She also seems to be trying to personalize/humanize these horrible human beings, continuously telling us she loved them, even as she writes that her father threatened to strike her when she was pregnant, forced her to give up a scholarship to the college of her choice in order to attend a right wing school (even though he would provide no financial support and she would be leaving home, so...huh?...what incentive is there to obey?), and her mother apparently admitted she probably never even loved her. Besides being a poor writer (kind of made me wonder about that substandard education she got at UD--she should have stuck to guns and taken that scholarship!), she was a frustratingly passive and unsympathetic narrator and I almost gave up on finishing this book about 1/2 dozen times. Cannot understand all the 4 and 5 stars reviews both here and at Amazon...

  • Aaron VanAlstine
    2018-10-14 01:43

    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 lunacy are sad and entertaining; however, the author fails when she conflates her experience with today’s political environment and one hears a familiar echo in her warnings about the Tea Party.

  • Holly
    2018-09-25 01:33

    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!

  • Millie
    2018-09-22 01:46

    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
    2018-10-03 23:18

    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 while there weren't tons of those, there were enough to make me stop and have to reread pages at a time.After technicalities, I just, I want to humor Claire Conner. She had a difficult life growing up in the wealthy suburbs of Chicago where her parents sent all their children to private schools. Said children were forced to help around the house, first by looking after one another and later by doing housework and attending John Birch Society Meetings.What Conner seems to want to write is an expose of Robert Welch, who founded the John Birch Society. Anyone who's read, even minimally, about the history of the JBS or about the political climate in which it flourished will not be educated or edified by anything Conner's written. In fact, having extensively studied the period, this memoir is uncomfortably immature. As I read, I kept thinking that, to expiate this, most people would have just spent years in therapy. But Claire Conner reads the establishment of the Tea Party movement as the revival of the JBS, which may lead other spoiled young women to be required to listen to ideas they don't like. What she ends up writing is a mishmash of her memories of current events as the background to cutting ties with her parents. Other reviewers have observed that it is "heavily" footnoted. But apparently they didn't actually check the footnotes because about a third of them are recursive insistences that she had a conversation with her parents or one or more of her siblings. And much of what should be footnoted, if she were actually writing history, is not. She seems to think that name checking the Koch Brothers is enough to make her point for her. What's the current term for that on the left? Dog whistle?Conner begins in error. The Tea Party movement began prior to the election of 2008 as a response to policies forwarded by George W. Bush. She then writes of her own political consciousness as a map for others to follow. Give up "right-wing" politics (she thinks Francisco Franco and Barry Goldwater were pretty well interchangeable) and grow a heart, just like she did. After all, she has yet to meet a catholic who can justify the doctrine of subsidarity. Despite the fact that her own definition of it is a rational, logical justification thereof. But it hurts her feelings, therefore it must be wrong.I sound like her horrible father, who by our current social mores would be considered abusive. But as a returning GI in a time when culture did expect children to be extensions of their parents, Conner's father, who mostly yells, seems tame. She seems to be most deeply affected by her parents' insistence that she think rather than feel. How dare they! That heeding this insistence might have both prevented and improved her memoir seems lost on her.

  • Skjam!
    2018-10-06 19:30

    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 Birch Society, for those who may be unfamiliar, was founded in the 1950s by candy entrepreneur Robert Welch to fight the overwhelming menace of the international Communist conspiracy. It was named after a former missionary murdered by the Chinese Communists under murky circumstances, and stood against all forms of Communism and what its members believed to be Communist fronts. The UN? Communist plot. Ending racial segregation? Communist plot. Being anti-Communist but not in the same way as the John Birch Society? Communist plot.This is a sad story in many ways. According to Ms. Conner’s account, her parents’ fanaticism blinded them to the damage they were doing to their family relationships. It also blinded them to the flaws in those they allied with, be it Holocaust deniers, violent criminals or just political opportunists. She recalls several instances of people being stuffed down her father’s memory hole rather than have him admit he was ever wrong about them.The Conners also seemed never to notice that the dire predictions of a Communist takeover in four, five years tops, never came true, never came close to coming true. The JBS never admitted that previous predictions were wrong, just kept doomsaying to keep the troops in line and the money flowing.A particularly telling story is that Ms. Conner’s parents, despite finding thousands of dollars each year to spend on the Society’s cause, told her that they could not spare one penny for her college education and she would have to pay for it on her own. Then when she won a generous scholarship, forced her to turn it down as they had already picked a more expensive college for her to go to. She reports that her father exploded with rage when asked why, if Claire had to pay for her own education, she couldn’t choose her own school.Mr. Conner also discusses her involvement with the pro-life movement, originally stemming from her personal experience and her religious convictions, and how it was co-opted by political opportunists who didn’t actually care about the children, just about enraging their donor base into giving more money.The book also discusses how parts of the JBS ethos are still alive and well in today’s Tea Party and other right-wing groups. The John Birch Society itself may be a tiny shell of what it once was, but rabid hatred of big government , racism and a fear of the Left still linger.There are many footnotes, and a complete index, but no illustrations.I highly recommend this book to history buffs, those curious about right-wing politics, and those interested in biography.

  • Rob
    2018-09-18 00:26

    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 their right wing politics. We see her growing awareness and developing distance from her parents at the same time as we are given an insiders view of the far rights growth and obsessions over the last 50 years. Her parents were cranks of this we can be certain. It is hard to unpick their narcissism from their extreme political views as to why they were such awful parents. There did not seem to be a lot of love nor reason in the Conner household. There often appears to be a cult like atmosphere but they were not living in a physical compound and her parents were so confrontational that even the "social compound" of right wing Catholicism does not adequately explain this atmosphere. Claire herself willingly became involved in the antiabortion cause. Many Catholics in the 70's were active in this movement and like her came to the same conclusions. I saw many friends parents become involved from a deep conviction that the fetus was an unborn child. Like Claire they became disillusioned because the focus was not on the needs of the mother and child. One of my dearest friends had enough as a young "right to lifer" when he noticed that many in the movement were also pro capital punishment. He really did believe in the sanctity of all life like Claire Connor.One of the questions I find myself asking is how far away is any family from being a cult? I came from a political cult of middle of the road social democrats. My family voted for the Australian Labor Party as did 40 to 50% of the Australian people. So is it not a cult when you are part of an acceptable political grouping? When I make it clear to my kids that any political group that does not have at its centre the welfare of human beings is unacceptable what am I doing?

  • Kimberley Johnson
    2018-09-29 23:43

    When I became aware of Wrapped in the Flag, my interest was immediately piqued. I downloaded a copy to my Kindle was instantly pulled in.Not only did I learn about the John Birch Society (JBS) in detail, I also had a lesson in history. Conner's masterful ability to educate as well as entertain will keep you hooked until the very last page. I have a much clearer vision of today's radical right because of this book. Conner has the ability to tell her story in a way that is fair and balanced, but provides insight into the minds extremist conservatives.Everyone should read this book. EVERYONE! Even if you have an understanding of the JBS, Conner lived it and her story helps to piece together why things are as they are today. Thank you Claire Conner for sharing your fascinating story.

  • Sieglinde
    2018-10-05 22:27

    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 lively journalistic style and you can also take it as a story of a young girl surviving a very disfunctional family.

  • Greg
    2018-09-26 03:21

    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
    2018-09-15 00:30

    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!

  • Sally
    2018-09-22 00:46

    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.

  • Alex
    2018-09-16 19:39

    Inoculated between giving this book one and two stars for a while. On one hand, it is very easy to read and I didn't find myself wanting to skip sections. Her writing style is very personal and I like that a lot. In the end, though, I didn't find this book enlightening or interesting at all. It was just meh.

  • Bob Anderson
    2018-09-29 02:30

    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 long line of fringe far-right organizations that inflamed certain indispensable segments of conservative voters while giving mainstream politicians plausible deniability. Much like the John Birch Society, the focus of this book.John Birch was considered by some to be the first casualty of the Cold War; he was killed by Chinese communists in late 1945 under uncertain circumstances. Robert Welch used this story as the foundation of his new organization devoted to opposing Communists (and leftists in general, and plain liberals, and minorities, and what some might call RINOs, etc.) in late 1958. The author is the daughter of two of Welch’s devotees, and this book is the story of her experiences within the society and her intellectual transformation to something that may have truly scared her former self. I cannot recommend this book enough; it is gripping, moving, and inspiring. Her story covers grief and hope, anger and fear, adroitly. Many of the scenes, such as her arguments about whether to take a full-ride to a public college or slave away to attend a terrible, but conservatively-minded, school, or her reaction to the assassination of John Kennedy, are powerful and well worth reading. If you are interested in the political climate of America, this is a relevant book. If you are a convert from conservatism, or dancing around such a conversion, it is essential.

  • Barb
    2018-09-20 22:31

    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 expected to serve as a maid at her parents' JBS meetings in their home, as well as keep up a constant barrage of letter-writing campaigns along with other political activities completely unsuited for someone who was not legally capable of making decisions about any issues. It was not until adulthood that Ms. Conner realized that she had opinions of which her parents would disapprove, however, she kept this mostly to herself until well after she was married and raising a family of her own.I found it terribly sad that Ms. Conner, as well as her siblings, were treated as extensions of their parents' fears and prejudices. The children basically ran the house and took care of each other while mom and dad were busy with their work of keeping the commies, blacks, gays, and other undesirables from tearing down the American way of life. It's painfully obvious from this memoir where the rabidly anti-everything protesters of today come from and how they have been so thoroughly indoctrinated by their families and peers to see conspiracies behind every tree.A shocking (for those of us not born to it) expose of fear-mongering by reactionary groups bent on maintaining the status quo as they see it. I found this book hard to read, but even more difficult to put down. I highly recommend it.

  • Elizabeth Burton
    2018-10-11 02:32

    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 established right-wing organization named after a soldier killed during the war in China. The conversion of China to a Communist country was, to them, the ultimate proof that the US was falling into a socialist quagmire and something had to be done.Another of those who launched what they considered the last hope of preserving true US democracy was the father of Robert and Charles Koch, whose billions would fifty years later provide funding to support and turn the Tea Party into a right-wing juggernaut with the goal of finally achieving the eradication of "big government."Was it the assassination of John Kennedy, and the possibility the Birch Society had somehow played a part in it, that added momentum to Ms. Conner's gradual withdrawal from the right-wing opiates she'd been fed during her teen years? She doesn't say so outright, because this isn't about conspiracies. It's about how she came to realize just how poisonous the rhetoric from the ultra-right was, while giving the reader an insider's look at how using just the right words can sway people into acting against their own best interests.

  • Laraine Ryan
    2018-10-16 01:21

    Very readable and well told story. What a family to grow up in. I especially was appalled at how the parents picked out a university for their daughter and said she had to pay for it. In the mid-60s that was do-able, but they paid for their son, and they could afford it as they had money to give to right wing groups. I was interested in whether Mother had gone to college herself, and that question was eventually answered in the negative. Yet she spent most of her life researching and writing articles, so it didn't stop her. I'm amazed at how fanatical the parents were, especially Mother. Still in the late 90s fearing communist takeover and waiting for the incipient police state. I guess they ended up living in a bubble and didn't see the real world around them. The weirdest part of it all is how the modern tea party sounds just like these John Birchers of the 60s, and how the fanatical Bircher ideas have become less of the fringe, or at least, more heard about today. They were saying a lot of the same things you hear from the right wing today, not just the extreme fringe groups.

  • Leslie
    2018-10-08 00:25

    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. The Society members possessed an amazing quantity and "quality" of outlandish ideas. "Only property owners should be allowed to vote." -- William F. Buckley. The author is now a liberal Democrat and tours the country speaking out on the dangers of extreme right wing political groups. Me, I'm gonna join the John Birch Society. I think they may be onto something.

  • Wendy Johnson
    2018-09-15 20:30

    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 alt-right. 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 helped her mother write letters was actively involved. She began questioning things at an early age after going through a lot to appease her parents. This book gives a clear history of the JBS and their thought process, it also tells the tale of a girl that had to grow up quickly by discovering who SHE was, becoming an independent thinker and breaking free of a cult.