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Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House Hardcover – December 8, 2020
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From the Publisher
“A case study in how the democratic ideal of equal justice under the law collides with the squalid realities of America’s political system . . . a brisk and engaging account [that] sheds light on the challenges—legal, moral, political—of treating presidents and vice presidents like every other citizen.”—The Washington Post
“Bag Man delivers a powerful and timeless lesson about America’s enduring principles while demonstrating that the final verdict of history may differ from self-interested contemporary accounts and highlighting how much the rule of law depends upon the character of the people who enforce it.”—Rod J. Rosenstein, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General
“Bag Man is a super-entertaining page-turner about a mostly forgotten—yet hugely important—chapter of American history that played out right in the shadow of Watergate. It’s a deeply wild tale of greed, criminality, and corruption infecting the highest levels of our government. But at its heart, it’s a human story, a reminder that people make up our institutions, and ultimately they have the ability to protect—and to save—our democracy when it really needs their help.”—Ben Stiller
“Long before Donald Trump disrupted the rules of politics, Spiro Agnew cheerfully derided liberals, the establishment, ivory tower professors, and the press. In Bag Man, Maddow and Yarvitz provide rich new details about the shameless corruption and astonishing fall of Richard Nixon’s vice president. Meticulous reporting and vivid storytelling bring to life the lessons from the investigation and prosecution of a leader at the top of American government, providing useful guidance today as we navigate rhyming themes. As the authors write, ‘History is here to help.’”—Barbara McQuade, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan
“Rachel Maddow and Michael Yarvitz expand on their riveting podcast to create a work both scholarly and disturbing in its parallels to current events. Their fast-paced unfurling of Vice President Agnew’s almost forgotten crimes—which feel all too familiar to anyone paying attention to politics lately—offers a critical case study in the patterns of corruption that continue to plague our democracy, documenting how politicians abuse their office and how the good guys can bring them to justice. Both a thriller and a history book, Bag Man is a triumph of storytelling.”—Preet Bharara, New York Times bestselling author of Doing Justice and host of the podcast Stay Tuned with Preet
“A welcome reminder that, unlike today, in the case of Agnew, political crimes were actually punished (and in a nonpartisan fashion).”—Kirkus Reviews
“Colorful . . . Maddow’s fans will enjoy this entertaining and well-researched recap of Agnew’s comeuppance.”—Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Michael Yarvitz is an Emmy and Peabody award-winning television producer and journalist. He was the executive producer and co-writer of the podcast series Bag Man.
- Publisher : Crown (December 8, 2020)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0593136683
- ISBN-13 : 978-0593136683
- Item Weight : 1.05 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.79 x 1.14 x 8.58 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Rachel Maddow and her writing partner, Michael Yarvitz, are meticulous in laying out the story of Spiro T. Agnew. From his relative obscurity as governor of Maryland to VP of the US in one of the most highly, publicly corrupt administrations, this investigative pair proffer details that have been previously tangled up in the nonsense of our government.
Chapter 9 of the book, “High-Risk Ball”, was the pinnacle for me. Agnew’s lawyers realize that their client is almost untouchable, due to Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution. This is explained in conjunction with all of Agnew’s other “relationships” and the remainder of the book details the lengths and mind boggling depth of pervasive corruption that kept this Brazen Crook out of prison.
There are transcripts of conversations between Nixon and Agnew, direct quotes, pictures of documents as well as photographs of the people involved that are injected throughout the text. These are like giant exclamation points to an already razor sharp narrative. Each chapter begins with a b&w line art drawing by Tom Bachtell that’s snarky and totally Maddow worthy. The notes section at the end of the book is broken down by chapter. In the Kindle version it takes the reader back to the location in the book, NOT to the original document.
Because these events happened 50 years ago, the language in this book is not an issue like those of contemporary politics. These folks, altho’ they behaved with equal reprehensibility, did so without speaking like uneducated, single adjective addicted simians; our great fortune, at least as far as reading this book is concerned.
Kudos to Maddow and Yarvitz for their excellent work and especially for producing it without taking contemporary political potshots. Their book clearly shows the strengths and weaknesses of the justice system, how it removed Agnew from office but failed further action that has left a lasting impact for those who have followed📚
The story only gets better as we learn that Spiro Agnew was selected to be VP because he would be the attack dog on the press and appeal to the white right. Sound familiar?
While this true story took place 46 years ago it absolutely parallels what’s taking place right now in Washington.
Terrific book, great story and a warning on how rare it has become to see brave people speak truth to power.
First, Ms. Maddow gets right to the point. We don’t get fifty pages how Spiro Agnew grew up. And she assumes we know what Watergate was and does not have to go deeply into it, although is a major player in the turn of events.
We see the dedication, and intelligence, of three prosecutors from Baltimore and how they build their case and pursue it despite political pressure for them to stop. They were investing Spiro Agnew, then Vice-President under Richard Nixon, and the money he was taking as bribes for giving out municipal contracts when he was Governor of Maryland (and even before that!) He was getting envelopes filled with cash even as he was VP.
We also see inside the White House. Ms. Maddow provided with conversations taped by President Nixon on this matter. We also get to “listen in” on Haldeman’s daily taped diaries of events. This is information that they thoroughly researched and was totally new to me.
Also of interest is how George H.W. Bush, soon to be VP and then President, tried to interfere and have the investigation shut down. It seems to these people there was nothing evil going on, it was all politics.
The heroes of the story are the prosecutors and Eliot Richardson who protected them and proceeded in the infestation during the heart of the Watergate scandal. Miss Maddow also gets reflections, in current time, of the prosecutors an presents them with information even they did not know.
I hope this book becomes a mini series.
I can hardly wait for Rachel’s next book!
Top reviews from other countries
I had to have a copy of this audiobook and again I am looking forward to hearing it!
Not enough lessons have been learned to have kept it from happening again