N.C. Wesleyan College will welcome award-winning author and political columnist Rob Christensen on Oct 5.

Christensen plans to share a glimpse of Eastern North Carolina with his latest history, “The Rise and Fall of the Branchhead Boys,” at the free event starting at 6 p.m. in Minges Auditorium at The Dunn Center.

With a career spanning over 45 years as a political journalist with The News and Observer out of Raleigh, Christensen brings to life the multi-generational story of the Scott family— one of North Carolina’s most influential political families.

Released in 2019, “The Rise and Fall of the Branchhead Boys” is the recipient of the prestigious Ragan Old North State Award for Nonfiction. Through investigative journalism that weaves together interviews paired with archival research, Christensen steps back in time to offer an engaging historical account of an important turning point for North Carolina’s political scene.

“I am looking forward to speaking at N.C. Wesleyan because Branchhead Boys is to a large degree about eastern North Carolina and the continuing struggles with North Carolina’s urban-rural divide. Nash County, in particular, figures heavily in my book,” Christensen said.


Christensen shares the story of the Scott family legacy and how race and populism influenced the political landscape of the 20th century during a period known as the era of progressive politics in North Carolina.

Three generations of Scotts held statewide office overcoming racial stereotypes. W. Kerr Scott, Robert Scott and Meg Scott Phipps were able to gain the support of rural North Carolinians who were colloquially known as the Branchhead Boys, a group of grassroots rural voters.

Christensen recounts the hardships faced by the Scotts to help develop rural North Carolina and introduce modern amenities such as having electric and telephone power lines extended and having roads paved. Instrumental in their own downfall, Christensen concludes to what ultimately led to their demise.

Christensen retired in 2018 after a successful career in journalism. He has appeared as a political analyst on over 600 television and radio programs including the CBS Evening News, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, ABC’s Nightline, C-Span, PBS, NPR and the BBC.

He has been interviewed by Don Imus, Mitch Albom, Diane Rheems, Jeff Greenfield, Chris Matthews, Cokie Roberts, Al Franken and more. He has shared his insights and industry knowledge through hundreds of talks at colleges, libraries, book stores and civic and political clubs across the state.