... [a] wildly entertaining and informative investigation ... Spiro Agnew was crooked long before he arrived in Washington, and the history of his efforts to cover-up his wrongdoings make a fascinating tale. Maddow and Yarvitz are wonderful storytellers and capably engage the reader by expanding on her podcast with even more details and expert analysis of Agnew's numerous criminalities. Most notably, they convey the scandal’s lasting impact on American politics and the media. Bag Man is a thoroughly consuming reexamination of one of the most shameful scandals of American political history.
... breezy ... Like the hosts of a reality show, Maddow and Yarvitz step from behind a 47-year-old curtain to inform the former prosecutors what they’ve learned ... while Bag Man the book is considerably more detailed than the podcast, it necessarily lacks a soundtrack for such spontaneous exclamations, and the sordid immediacy of hearing those White House tapes — gems like Nixon talking to Agnew about Beall and asking: 'Is he a good boy? Why the hell did we appoint him?' ... Maddow and Yarvitz don’t hold back. To read Bag Man is to be reminded how lucky the nation was to be rid of him.
... gives a brisk and engaging account of the effort to hold Vice President Spiro Agnew criminally accountable, and it sheds light on the challenges — legal, moral, political — of treating presidents and vice presidents like every other citizen ... Media personalities tend to favor history built on baseless conspiracy theories...In Bag Man, however, Maddow and Yarvitz adopt a more trenchant approach, basing their storytelling on archival research and oral histories that yield fresh details about the ordeal confronting prosecutors investigating Agnew’s abuses of power ... At times, though, the Agnew-as-Trump analogy is overwrought. The authors give Agnew too much credit for innovating a brand of politics that owed as much, if not more, to the era’s grass-roots conservative mobilization, the growing influence of far-right media, and leaders even more influential than Agnew such as Joe McCarthy, Roy Cohn, George Wallace, Phyllis Schlafly and Newt Gingrich. (Also left unaddressed is whether Agnew might have survived in office had Fox News and Twitter existed to defend him in the early 1970s) ... Some of the writing tends toward the glib ... is also partial to a good-and-evil theme that crowds out nuance and reflects the limits of turning partisan cable television and podcasting into sober-minded historical analysis ... Nonetheless, this fast-paced and well-researched book underscores how the nation’s legal and political systems struggle to hold the most powerful elected leaders responsible for their crimes.