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The Longest Con

How Grifters, Swindlers, and Frauds Hijacked American Conservatism

Author: Joe Conason, Foreword by George T. Conway III

The Longest Con

The Longest Con


About This Book

A sardonic chronicle of how conservatism turned into a racketeering enterprise – and why Donald Trump became the living emblem of the American right’s moral decay.


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Book Details

A sardonic chronicle of how conservatism turned into a racketeering enterprise – and why Donald Trump became the living emblem of the American right’s moral decay.

The Longest Con tells the fascinating story of the partisan con artists who have corrupted conservative politics in our time, creating a toxic phenomenon that culminated in the election of Donald Trump, a bumptious fraud whose checkered career and tawdry retinue, including his presidential cabinet, have featured almost every variety of scam. But long before he appeared, Trump’s path to power was blazed by the motley horde of swindlers and quacks who preceded him.

From the “professional anti-communists” (whose tactics even J. Edgar Hoover despised) to the “populist” grifters of the Tea Party movement and the religious charlatans of the “prosperity gospel” (who provided a pious front for Trump), the right-wing ripoff has remained remarkably consistent, even as personalities change and new technologies emerge: Stir up anger and resentment, demonize political opponents, promise vengeance, and collect donations from the gullible. It’s a highly lucrative game that any unscrupulous charlatan can play, as many have – and they are named in these pages.

In an unsparing and often comic narrative, Joe Conason explores the right’s long, steep descent into a movement whose principal aim is not to protect freedom or defend the Constitution, but merely to line the pockets of pretenders and blowhards whose malevolent tactics now endanger the nation.

Imprint Publisher

St. Martin's Press



In The News

"A timely contribution to the present election cycle." – Kirkus Reviews

"With disinformation run amok, unwavering investigations such as Conason’s are essential reality checks on the duplicitous nature of money in politics." – Booklist (starred review)

"Joe Conason has written an indispensable and utterly entertaining field guide to right-wing sleaze. Behind the movement’s high-minded rhetoric lies an industry of grubby, greedy profiteers exploiting ignorance, anger and fear. As the conservative con men have grown rich and powerful, American voters have been ripped off and misled. From Roy Cohn to Donald Trump, Conason shows that the degradation of democracy isn’t just a shame, it’s a booming business." – Jane Mayer, author of Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right

“From Joe McCarthy’s red scare to Donald Trump’s Big Lie about the 2020 election, there’s always been a dark underbelly to the conservative movement: grift. Right-wing peddlers of paranoia and prejudice have long exploited the fears, grievance and resentments of susceptible Americans to line their own pockets. In The Longest Con, veteran investigative journalist Joe Conason deftly tracks this decades-long tale of conservative hucksterism and demonstrates that these scams are not sideshows to right-wing ideology but an essential part of it. To understand the brazen crookedness at the heart of the right—and how it poisons American politics today—you must read this book.“ – David Corn, Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones and author of American Psychosis: A Historical Investigation of How the Republican Party Went Crazy

“An amazing work of journalism and a sober warning for Americans across the political divide. Joe Conason has laid out in stark, unflinching terms how the current attempts to steal our democracy were made possible by the gang of grifters and con artists who first stole the Republican Party. This is a must-read book for every democracy defender.” – Joy Reid, Host, “The ReidOut” on MSNBC

“Conason pulls the cover off a half century of cynical and at times criminal conservative conniving, including gay-bashing by closeted gay Christians, documenting how their hateful lies enrich the promoters, who spend less than 16-cents of each donated dollar on rightwing candidates and sometimes not even a penny.” – David Cay Johnston, Recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, an IRE Medal, and the George Polk Award

About the Creators

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The Longest Con

The Longest Con