Have you been enjoying our VolunTEENs’ book reviews? We hope so! Teen nonfiction lovers will definitely want to check today’s post out. These reveiws were written by Jennings C., Age 16.
Bag Man by Rachel Maddow
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Bag Man, by Rachel Maddow, is the story of Spiro Agnew’s corruption, its discovery, his resignation, and the consequences thereof. Agnew’s crime was, essentially, taking bribes in return for government contracts, as was common in his home state of Maryland at the time. Agnew, unlike most politicians however, did not stop accepting bribes when he became Vice President. Rather, he continued to expect reccurring payments from the contracts given when he was still in office in Maryland.
This would probably have gone unnoticed, given Maryland’s propensity for corruption and lack of oversight, and the fact that almost no-one would dare to investigate a sitting Vice President, had it not been for a team of federal prosecutors that had decided to finally stop Maryland’s corruption. They weren’t looking for dirt on Agnew, but when they turned over the proverbial rotting log, the hive of corruption, which stretched all the way up to Agnew’s former position, governor, it planted the seeds of suspicion in their minds.
After their investigation into Maryland’s current corruption, they began to trace Agnew’s bribery, and they eventually found the company that had bribed him, the man who took the money to Agnew, even the place that the company placed the money for Agnew to pick up. All of the mounting evidence against Agnew eventually had an effect on the stubborn man, and he eventually resigned, becoming only the second Vice President in the history of the United States to do so.
Of course, while all this was happening, not all that much attention was paid to what would, at any other time, have been the front page news. There was an even bigger scandal to look at: Watergate. So even though Agnew is only the second Vice President to have resigned ever, and Agnew only did so under enormous legal pressure from the President down, half a century later people talk about Watergate, not Spiro Agnew’s bribes. For this reason, I feel that Bag Man is an excellent book to read not merely for entertainment, but for education. The average layperson will find a new and interesting story about the corruption and scandal that plagued the Nixon-Agnew White House, while the history buff may learn new details concerning Agnew’s clashes with the media and Nixon himself. All in all, a well written and detailed account of extraordinary corruption and the bravery of the men who shed light on the whole debacle.
Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump, Ph.D.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Too Much and Never Enough is a book written by Mary L. Trump, Ph.D., about her uncle Donald Trump, of former Presidential fame, and to a larger extent the Trump family. While many books written recently about the Trump family have placed Donald’s Presidency front and center, in this book it takes a back seat to considerations of why, in the author’s experience, Donald and his siblings are the way they are. Mary Trump views Donald as a pathological liar and conman, and she seeks to explain why he behaves as he does. The answer to this seems to be Fred Trump nurturing and funding Donald’s façade of success with millions of dollars and encouragement reserved specifically for his favorite child. Even
after going out into the real world, Donald surrounded himself with people who would perpetuate his father’s encouragement of his cons.
This is Mary Trump’s main thesis, and she provides much compelling evidence, both for Donald’s lying, which is well documented, and Fred Trump’s cruelty towards his own family, which is less well known. Mary Trump’s father, Freddy, descended into alcoholism because of his treatment at his father’s hands. Fred’s wife lived in a perpetual depression because of his treatment of her, and his belief that emotions were a form of weakness.
On the whole, Too Much and Never Enough is not a book about Donald Trump, but rather about Fred Trump and how he shaped Donald into the man he is today. It is an interesting, if depressing look at how one person can destroy an entire family’s relationships, both with each other, and with those outside of their family.
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