President Zach Messitte co-author of book about GOP’s Spiro Agnew

The book Republican Populist: Spiro Agnew and the Origins of Donald Trump’s America is scheduled to be released in October by The University of Virginia Press.

The authors are: Charles J. Holden, professor of history at St. Mary’s College of Maryland; Zach Messitte, president of Ripon College and professor of politics and government; and Jerald Podair, professor of history and Robert S. French Professor of American Studies at Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin.

The book’s description reads: “Often overlooked, former vice president Spiro T. Agnew typically is a maligned figure in American political history. Largely remembered for his alliterative speeches, attacks on the media and Eastern intellectuals, and his resignation from office in 1973 in the wake of tax-evasion charges, Agnew’s larger impact on the modern Republican Party is significant and underappreciated. It is impossible, in fact, to understand the current internal struggles of the Republican Party without understanding this populist ‘everyman’ and prototypical middle-class striver who was one of the first proponents of what would become the ideology of Donald Trump’s GOP.

“Republican Populist examines Agnew’s efforts to make the Republican Party representative of the silent majority. Under the tutelage of President Richard Nixon and a group of talented speechwriters including Pat Buchanan and William Safire, Agnew crafted the populist-tinged, antiestablishment rhetoric that helped turn the Republican Party into a powerful national electoral force that has come to define American politics into the current era.

“A fascinating political portrait of Agnew from his pre-vice presidential career through and beyond his scandal-driven fall from office, this book is above all a revelatory examination of Agnew’s role as one of the founding fathers of the modern Republican Party and of the link between Agnew’s ‘people’s party’ and his fraught party of populists and businessmen today.”

Sean Wilentz, the Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor of the American Revolutionary Era at Princeton University, says of the book: “This valuable book illuminates Spiro Agnew’s place in the modern Republican Party. The shift of upwardly mobile white ethnic Americans into the GOP, starting in the 1960s, has been crucial to the party’s emergence as a conservative populist juggernaut. The authors show expertly how Agnew’s career dramatized that shift.”

Republican Populist: Spiro Agnew and the Origins of Donald Trump’s America is available for pre-order from the publisher and Amazon.com.

“A Three-Question Interview with Zach Messitte: The Bologna Institute for Policy Research at SAIS (Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies) Europe” can be viewed here.


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