Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-Up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House

Crown. Dec. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9780593136683. $28. POL SCI
MSNBC host Maddow (Blowout) and journalist Yarvitz introduce the story of former Vice President Spiro Agnew (1918–96), who resigned as Richard Nixon’s vice president after being investigated on suspicion of criminal conspiracy, bribery, extortion, and tax fraud. Based on Maddow and Yarvitz’s popular podcast of the same name, this book-length treatment of Agnew covers his rise from Maryland governor to Nixon’s running mate in 1968. Notably, they show Agnew’s political awakening later in life, starting with his time on the Baltimore County Council. Later, while serving as vice president, Agnew was engaged in a scheme involving taking bribes from Baltimore construction companies who received prime jobs for their payments. The authors comprehensively cover this story while also providing background information on the three prosecutors who placed their careers in jeopardy when they decided to investigate the second most powerful man in the country. Insight is also given to George Beall, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, who prosecuted Agnew for bribery, and how the case impacted his relationship with both Agnew and Nixon.
VERDICT Fans of Maddow’s work, especially the related podcast, will thoroughly enjoy this historical allegory. Readers will see the parallel from Agnew's story to current events.
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