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How a 77-Year-Old Visionary Author Became the Target of a Far-Ranging Right-Wing Conspiracy Theory

The bizarre tale of how Frances Fox Piven came to be seen as the author of a blueprint for a radical takeover of American society by paranoid conservatives.

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"He interviewed me under false pretenses," Piven says. "If I'd known he was a right-wing operative, I wouldn't have let him into my apartment. I might have talked to him in my office or over the phone."

Contacted by phone at his Michigan office, Olson hung up as soon as he was asked about his interview with Piven. When called again for comment, his colleague, Steve Gunn, answered for him. "He doesn't have any interest in talking with you. He doesn't care anything about you," Gunn said. "If you call again, I'll call 911. You have a miserable day."

A shorter version of this article appeared in the American Prospect magazine.

Peter Dreier, professor of politics at Occidental College, is coauthor of "The Next Los Angeles: The Struggle for a Livable City" and "Place Matters: Metropolitics for the 21st Century."