As ‘boy wonder,’ John Birch founder enrolled at UNC

The New York Times: What’s the one book you wish someone else would write?

Rick Perlstein, author of “The Invisible Bridge”: I used to think some history graduate student looking for a dissertation topic should do a biography of Robert Welch, the founder of the John Birch Society. Back then I thought of it as akin to studying some middling Romantic poet: worthy but slightly marginal. Now I think it’s a project ripe for some top-shelf biographer’s plucking. The Birch Society is thriving within the conservative “mainstream”…..

— From “Rick Perlstein: By the Book” in the New York Times (Aug. 28)

From his birth in Chowan County in 1899, Robert Welch certainly gave biographers plenty to work with. This is from his entry  by Jonathan Houghton in NCpedia::

“Welch showed early signs of genius. He read at age 3, was graduated from high school at the top of his class at age 12, and, still wearing knee breeches, promptly matriculated at the University of North Carolina, where he was dubbed a ‘boy wonder.’ He was graduated at 17….”