Spiro Agnew and the Rise of the Republican Right
by Justin P. Coffey
October 2015, 259pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-4141-5
$75, £58, 66€, A103
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-4142-2
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In 1966, Spiro T. Agnew was an obscure Maryland politician. Two years later, he was elected vice president of the United States.

The narrative of Spiro Agnew's rise and fall has never been fully told. This compelling book tells the story of one of the most controversial, high-level politicians of recent American history and explains the importance of Agnew's life and career.

Too often overlooked by students of modern conservatism, Spiro T. Agnew’s political career mirrored the transformation of the Republicans from a “big tent” party to a narrower, more conservative, and ideologically purer one in the 1960s and 1970s. Spiro Agnew and the Rise of the Republican Right traces Agnew’s life and career and shows how Agnew was a key figure in American politics—and documents how a powerful politician who looked to be headed to the presidency ended up having to resign from the office of the vice president in shame and fade into the shadows of political history.

This political biography examines how Spiro Agnew’s ideological transformation from a moderate liberal to a conservative spearheaded the rise of the Republican Right. Author Justin P. Coffey, PhD, explores the political, social, and racial aspects of Agnew’s career and how he both influenced and was himself shaped by each of these parameters. This book offers an unprecedented study of Agnew’s legacy in the present-day context, providing information suited for any reader interested in history or politics and filling a void in the scholarship of the rise of the conservative movement.


  • Provides a comprehensive scholarly biography of Spiro Agnew, an important 20th-century politician who helped shape the direction of the Republican Party
  • Presents historical information that documents how the conservatives took control of the Republican Party and caused a key shift in the party's ideology
  • Helps explain the origins of the ideological divisions of American politics, allowing readers to better understand the current state of the two main political parties
  • Written by the foremost expert on Agnew and an academic who specializes in recent American history
Justin P. Coffey, PhD, is associate professor of history at Quincy University, Quincy, IL. He specializes in recent American history and is the author of numerous chapters and articles, including "Nixon and Agnew" in A Companion to Richard M. Nixon. He received his doctorate in American history from the University of Illinois-Chicago.


2016 Editors' Top Community College Resources - Social & Behavioral Sciences —Choice, July 27, 2016

Outstanding Academic Title, 2016, January 1, 2017


"An engrossing and scholarly effort, nicely researched and sensitively written. Highly recommended. All levels/libraries."—Choice, June 1, 2016

"It’s about time. Coffey has penned the first scholarly biography of Spiro Agnew, and has done so with flair, wit, and—most important for his subject—balance. A judicious use of Agnew’s papers, and an enviable command of the secondary literature has produced not only a thoughtful view of Richard Nixon’s first vice president, but also a worthy view of the rise of the modern Republican Party. In all ways, Coffey’s Agnew is a triumph."—John Robert Greene, Paul J. Schupf Professor, History and Humanities, Cazenovia College

"Justin Coffey’s Spiro Agnew is the first scholarly and comprehensive biography of the much maligned vice-president to appear in print. Coffey provides a well-researched examination of the controversial vice-president and the gloves are off in this candid assessment of the career of Agnew, from his Rockefeller Republican beginnings, to his corrupt governorship, to his status as a popular figure on the Right during his vice-presidency. The book will enlighten political scholars and will add to the literature on the development of conservatism in America. Coffey shows how Agnew’s career is an instructive example of a political figure whose light shone brightly only to be snuffed out by his own mideeds."—Gregory L. Schneider, Emporia State University

"Justin Coffey has written a fine book about a flawed man. The author expertly traces Spiro Agnew's political transformation from moderate Republican to conservative icon to disgraced vice president. Readable, engaging, and insightful, Spiro T. Agnew and the Rise of the Republican Right is now the standard biography of Agnew and a noteworthy contribution to the history of the G.O.P."—Dean J. Kotlowski, professor of history, Salisbury University; author of Nixon's Civil Rights: Politics, Principle, and Policy and Paul V. Mcnutt and the Age of FDR
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