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

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  4,531 ratings  ·  546 reviews
The untold story of the other scandal that rocked Nixon's White House: the wild crimes, audacious cover-up, and spectacular downfall of Vice President Spiro Agnew - with new reporting that expands on Rachel Maddow's Peabody Award-nominated podcast.

Is it possible for an American vice president to direct a vast criminal enterprise within the halls of the White House? To have
Hardcover, 291 pages
Published December 8th 2020 by Crown
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Rob Lund I wondered the same thing. You won't be disappointed: there is a wealth of new info, new characters, and much more detail behind how everything went d…moreI wondered the same thing. You won't be disappointed: there is a wealth of new info, new characters, and much more detail behind how everything went down.

I think the two mediums (radio/podcast and the book) are perfect compliments. In the book, you have far greater detail and time, plus the benefit of several photographs of the people involved.

In the podcast, you have the tightly edited drama that brings it to life.

Now the perfect trifecta would be to see this all come to film. Oh wait! That's already in the works! ;)(less)

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Start your review of Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-Up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Have you ever heard of Spiro Agnew—Richard Nixon’s disgraced Vice President? Do you know how Mr. Agnew became a disgraced former Vice President of the United States? If your answer to either one of these questions is “no”, BAG MAN by Rachel Maddow and Michael Yarvitz can answer these questions and do so in a quick and eye-opening read.

For myself, I remembered Agnew resigning but I never really knew or was curious WHY? This book had me spellbound with the plethora of criminal events that led Agne
Elyse  Walters
Not going to rate it..... but overall if I had to rate it... I’d give an overall 5 star rating — for the right historical political reader ....

I absolutely love Rachel Maddow....
but I felt dragged down in Bag Man....

I was hoping for a story this one wasn’t. .... but is it valuable? You bet!!!

Lyndon Johnson,
LBJ’s Vice President- Hubert Humphrey,
The Dems, Eisenhower’s old VP, Richard Nixon,
Antiwar protest laced with paroxysms of violence,
Republicans convention miles away in Miami Beach Florida,
J Earl
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House (no, not the current resident) by Rachel Maddow and Michael Yarvitz is a fascinating read that highlights the strange career of Spiro Agnew.

I remember Agnew and his shame very well. I was born in Maryland and lived there during most of the period when he held any office. During his time as VP, my sister worked on the Hill for Congressman Stratton from NY and then Congressman Bennett from F
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
A compulsively readable look at a sordid episode of White House history involving the VP under Nixon - the ignominious Spiro T. Agnew. Going into this book I had only a cursory understanding of what this scandal was about, as it has generally been overshadowed in the history books by Watergate.

The book briskly covers a lot of ground and provides a good amount of context to the case, in addition to covering the various criminals and prosecutors involved.

One inescapable conclusion: Agnew was an e
Jan 01, 2021 rated it liked it
Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-Up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House by Rachel Maddow and Michael Yarvitz presents political history I recall well. Spiro Agnew, a conservative Republican, was elected governor of Maryland in 1966. Today Maryland is seen as a bastion of liberal Democrats, but it wasn't always so. In the fifties and sixties, the state possessed a strong segregationist element and a long history of racism and Jim Crow laws. [The atmosphere of t ...more
Steven Z.
Dec 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism.
A spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as "intellectuals".
There are people in our society who should be separated and discarded.
Three things have been difficult to tame: the oceans, fools and women. We may soon be able to tame the oceans; fools and women will take a little longer.
Perhaps the place to start looking for a credib
Dec 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
1972-1974 were incredible years for the U.S: an election that elicited untold questionable and illegal acts by a sitting President's administration, congressional hearings, tapes, and if that were not enough, the Vice-President, Spiro Agnew, resigned from office with a plea of Nolo contendere. I followed most of this with avid interest as I watched television day after day as the Watergate story unraveled. When Agnew's troubles took over the headlines, I realized that it was necessary to take hi ...more
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this podcast. It was marvelous.
Dec 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Just the podcast for me - Maddow is so good at this

- Rachel Maddow’s new book, ‘Bag Man,’ and the downfall of Spiro Agnew: Overshadowed by the Watergate scandal, the resignation of Nixon V.P. Spiro Agnew in 1973 over corruption and tax evasion is almost forgotten history. Rachel Maddow revisits Agnew’s story – and explains how the lessons are still relevant today. “So much of the legal framework by which Trump’s alleged crimes had to be considered by the Special Counsel and by this Justice Depar
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was only 10 then summer the Nixon-Agnew administration came crashing down, but I have vivid memories of the Watergate hearings playing out, day after day on the TV. I honestly had no idea that Agnew's indictment and resignation were caused by a completely different scandal.

Bag Man is a really well organized and thoroughly consuming telling of the man that was just a heartbeat away from becoming president. Rachel Maddow and Michael Yarvitz reveal all the details of what up that point, seemed li
Gary Anderson
Jan 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon’s Vice President, was one greedy guy. Agnew took bribes throughout his entire public career, including his time as Vice President when his “bag man” would personally deliver envelopes stuffed with cash to Agnew in his White House office.

This book version of Rachel Maddow’s Bag Man podcast series about the investigation into Agnew’s criminality is every bit as fascinating as the podcast and is even more delicious because of Maddow’s wit and humor. The heroes are the fed
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5, read-in-2019, podcast
Dec 29, 2020 rated it liked it
America's first Vice-President, John Adams, described the position as "the most insignificant Office that ever the Invention of Man contrived or his imagination conceived." It's an article of faith that most of the men who have held this exalted-sounding but functionally meaningless job were ciphers, nonentities and small-time crooks, including more than a few of the time-servers who succeeded a deceased or disgraced Executive Chief (I'm pretty sure the Chester Arthur Presidential Museum doesn't ...more
More of a 4.5.

I had heard of the Bagman podcast but never got around to catching up. But I remember watching Rachel talk about Agnew during a couple of A blocks of her show and was surprised that I hadn’t even heard the name of this supposedly infamous VP. So when I saw the announcement for this book, I was obviously very excited and immediately got around to reading it as soon as I got my library copy.

I naturally don’t want to hash the facts from the book again in this review, but reading abou
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I distinctly remember the day that Spiro T. Agnew resigned the Presidency, and had I know the true extent of his crimes, I would have been even more ecstatic to see him leave office. I always thought that he had been nabbed for tax evasion. Little did I know.

If you think that Donald Trump has been a unique politician, think again. Before there was Donald Trump, there was Spiro Agnew, a man who was chosen by Richard Nixon to be his running mate because he would attract those Southerners who would
Donna Hines
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Pay to play is still alive and well even in today's gameplay!
Sadly, not much has changed in the world of corruption, fraud, bribery, tax evasion, and the like from the days of the early 70's when Spiro Agnew then V.P. found himself in hot water.
Or did he ...
Because it appears that he was given a lenient 'Get out of Jail Free' card until a group of young male law students help to recoup the money.
Now, I'm no scholar in this area but suffice to say Agnew did everything to 'cover up' and claim 'wit
Shannon Ratliff
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the greatest minds of our time in my humble opinion. I’m only mildly jealous. Preach it, Rachel! Amen and a-fucking-men again!
Without focusing on the current occupant of the WH, Maddow and coauthor Michael Yarvitz make the point loud and clear corruption sometimes seeps into even the highest offices in the land.

I'm old so I remember Agnew and his smarmy, snarky face and demeanor. Why am I not surprised that Pat Buchanan helped him craft some of his best lines? Birds of a feather.

But this is a story of young prosecutors determined to do the right thing, to follow bribery and extortion wherever they end up...and to fight
Rob Lund
Feb 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
This book was SO entertaining, even if you have only the remotest interest in US political history. The podcast is great, the book is better. There is a wealth of new info, new characters, and much more detail behind how everything went down.

I think the two mediums (radio/podcast and the book) are perfect compliments. In the book, you have far greater detail and time, plus the benefit of several photographs of the people involved.

In the podcast, you have the tightly edited drama that brings it
Quick impressions: Overall this is a solid work of research and history combined with a great narrative that you just have to keep reading. I stayed up way late to finish this one, and I do not do that for just any book. If you are interested in U.S. history and politics, and perhaps also understand the current times in the U.S. a bit better, you need to pick this book up now. This was excellent, and I am happy to recommend it to anyone.

Full review on my blog coming soon.
Sandra Berryman
Sep 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ms. Maddow and Mr. Yarvitz have written a compelling story about Spiro Agnew. I literally could not put it down, finishing the whole book in one day. So much information to digest, for me a lot of new data. Would totally recommend this book to anyone who enjoys political history. Well researched and told in a manner that was easy to understand and comprehend. Agnew reminded me of Trump, except he wasn't born rich and had more than a third grade vocabulary. Well done! I received an e-book from Ne ...more
Amber Lea
May 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
I don't watch the Rachel Maddow Show, and I don't remember hearing about this book or placing it on hold at the library.

But hey, here it is. And I read it.

I think the title is meant to make you think it's about Trump, but it's about Spiro Agnew, Nixon's vice president. He resigned in disgrace due to a "tax" scandal. But the real story is that he was accepting bribes, and when he got caught he was really good at deflecting blame. So good, in fact, that he perhaps wrote the Trump playbook.

Maybe co
Jan 07, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Fun, Funny Account of a Criminal in the White House

Spiro Agnew, an almost accidental Vice President, an outright White Collar crime twit from Baltimore MD, is Rachel’s new subject. I remember my parents who passionately hated Nixon, also talking with their friends, passionately hating Spiro Agnew. His name was always intriguing and weird. Always used in tones of serious dislike, just like Nixon’s in my household. Rachel tells us his criminal history before and after the White House and how he
1. Attack the investigation as a witch hunt.
2. Obstruct it behind the scenes.
3. Attack individual investigators in personal terms.
4. Attack the credibility of the Justice Department itself.
5. Attack the media informing Americans about the case.
6. Punch back. Hard. Until either you are broken or the system is.

Sound familiar? Remind you of anyone you've heard of? These were the rules followed by Spiro T. Agnew, the 39th Vice President of the U.S. who resigned from office before Richard M. Nixon di
John Rae
Jan 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was a very interesting read. I didn’t know this was happening during Watergate. Definitely learned a lot from this book
Jan 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Breezy in tone (kinda like Rachel's show), the book takes us back in history to the 1973 fall from grace of Vice-President Spiro Agnew. Agnew's reaction and tactics foreshadowed what we saw during the Trump Administration. ...more
Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I enjoy Rachel Maddow’s skills in research and the ability to tell the back story of an event. I listened to the Bag Man podcasts, but also enjoyed the book. It is amazing what was going on that was overshadowed by Watergate.
Amy Van deventer
Feb 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I loved the podcast and wasn’t sure if it would be redundant to read the book as well. No regrets. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Dec 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Nearly 50 years ago the Watergate crisis was threatening to bring down a corrupt president. But Wait There’s More! Agnew, the vice president, was equally corrupt, blatantly accepting unmarked envelopes full of $100 bills from contractors looking for favors and lucrative jobs. He’d been doing it for years and it didn’t stop when he got to the White House. And he was an aggressive racist attack dog. So the Justice Department was suddenly faced with the possibility of having to remove both the pres ...more
Cristie Underwood
Dec 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
Rachel Maddow wrote a compelling book about the crimes of Vice President Spiro T. Agnew. Ironically, one of the phrases used by Agnew was to call the investigation into him a "witch hunt". Sound familiar? The parallels between the crimes of Agnew and our current President are pretty evident in this book. Ms. Maddow explores what happens when the biggest criminal is in the White House and there is a limited time to take action. ...more
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Rachel Maddow is host of the Emmy Award–winning Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, as well as the author of Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, a #1 New York Times bestseller. Maddow received a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Stanford University and earned her doctorate in political science at Oxford University. She lives in New York City and Massachusetts with her partner, artist S ...more

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7 likes · 2 comments
“history really is here to help.” 2 likes
“Evidently, he would prefer a different kind of television reporting,” he said of Agnew, “one that would be subservient to whatever political group happens to be in authority at the time. Those who might feel momentary agreement with his remarks should think carefully about whether that kind of television news is what they want.” 2 likes
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