Podcast: The Life and Death of John Birch

June 10, 2016 — min
Play Button Pause Button
00:00

Episode Guests

Elizabeth C. Economy

C. V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies

Show Notes

When most Americans hear the name John Birch, they immediately think of the John Birch Society: an anticommunist, right-wing advocacy group that flourished in the 1950s and 60s. But who was John Birch, and what did the society have to do with him? On this week’s Asia Unbound podcast I speak with Terry Lautz, visiting professor at Syracuse University, about his new book, John Birch: A Life. Lautz delves deeply into Birch’s story, recounting how he spent five years as a young Baptist missionary and U.S. intelligence officer in China in the 1940s. On his final mission, after a tragic miscommunication and scuffle, Birch was shot by Chinese communist troops. In the ensuing decades, the John Birch Society became a popular yet controversial organization that sowed the seeds of some elements of today’s modern conservative movement—even though Birch himself never espoused political views. Listen below as Lautz tells the exceptional story of the real John Birch, and describes what his life and death represented, and misrepresented, for American politics and U.S.-China relations through the twentieth century.

More Episodes

First came Mao, then came Deng, now Chinese President Xi Jinping has ushered in the Third Revolution, introducing sweeping reforms throughout the government, economy...

First came Mao, then came Deng, now Chinese President Xi Jinping has ushered in the Third Revolution, introducing sweeping reforms throughout the government, economy...

Read More

Under President Xi Jinping, China’s era of opening up and reform has drawn to an end, and a new era—one marked by the consolidation of power under Xi himself—has daw...

Under President Xi Jinping, China’s era of opening up and reform has drawn to an end, and a new era—one marked by the consolidation of power under Xi himself—has daw...

Read More

With over 5,000 years of history, modern China must be understood through the lens of its past. In his recent book, Bully of Asia: Why China's Dream is the New Threa...

With over 5,000 years of history, modern China must be understood through the lens of its past. In his recent book, Bully of Asia: Why China's Dream is the New Threa...

Read More

Situated in the heart of Southeast Asia, Thailand occupies a crucial geopolitical space in the region and is a major gateway to ASEAN markets. For years, it has main...

Situated in the heart of Southeast Asia, Thailand occupies a crucial geopolitical space in the region and is a major gateway to ASEAN markets. For years, it has main...

Read More

Four hundred million strong, the number of young Chinese exceeds the combined population of the United States and Canada. And as China grows more prominent on the wo...

Four hundred million strong, the number of young Chinese exceeds the combined population of the United States and Canada. And as China grows more prominent on the wo...

Read More

How will an emerging India wield its influence? With 800 million voters, India is the world’s largest democracy. It is also one of the world’s largest economies, wit...

How will an emerging India wield its influence? With 800 million voters, India is the world’s largest democracy. It is also one of the world’s largest economies, wit...

Read More

Despite sweeping reforms that have reduced rural poverty by 94 percent since 1980, more than 43 million people in China still live below the poverty line. To combat ...

Despite sweeping reforms that have reduced rural poverty by 94 percent since 1980, more than 43 million people in China still live below the poverty line. To combat ...

Read More

Dean Acheson. Mao Zedong. Harry Truman. Chiang Kai-Shek. All were significant players during one of China’s most pivotal years.  In 1949, Mao’s Communist army swept ...

Dean Acheson. Mao Zedong. Harry Truman. Chiang Kai-Shek. All were significant players during one of China’s most pivotal years.  In 1949, Mao’s Communist army swept ...

Read More

In a half century, South Korea has transformed itself from an impoverished, war torn country into a thriving, soft power giant known for its cars, cell phones, and c...

In a half century, South Korea has transformed itself from an impoverished, war torn country into a thriving, soft power giant known for its cars, cell phones, and c...

Read More

Los Angeles is the quintessential horizontal city with 915 miles of sprawling freeways and highways. Hong Kong’s astronomical real estate prices have led to a severe...

Los Angeles is the quintessential horizontal city with 915 miles of sprawling freeways and highways. Hong Kong’s astronomical real estate prices have led to a severe...

Read More