Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, The Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind

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First Chapter

Praise for Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, The Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind

“Bruce Watson’s spirited history of the affair does a great service in rescuing fact from the haze of legend…”
New York Times

“… the most thorough and readable plumbing yet of the Case Record. . .”
The Nation

Wall Street Journal

“. . . presents a lucid, evenhanded, and at times gripping look at a complex political mystery.”
American Heritage

“. . . a well-researched page-turner. . .”
Library Journal

“Bruce Watson does a terrific job of reviewing the historical record of the trial, drawing compelling portraits of the principals, their families, and partisans on both sides of the bitter controversy.”
Seattle Times

“The literature of this case is vast, but surprisingly little of it provides as balanced and unemotional a survey as this volume does.”
Washington Post

“Likely to become, for a new generation of readers, the definitive account.”

“an unusually even-handed look at a case more often politicized than understood. . .”
New Yorker

Publishers Weekly
August 20, 2007

Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are among the most famous political martyrs of 20th-century America, convicted of murder by a Massachusetts jury and executed in 1929. Watson (Bread and Roses) expertly runs through the facts of the case and the basic legal injustices perpetrated against the two men, beginning with their arrest on suspicion of a payroll robbery up to their electrocution, without agitating for either end of the political spectrum. He carefully establishes the context of anarchist terrorism that stirred public sentiment against the two admittedly radical defendants—including the judge at their trial, who made numerous prejudicial remarks outside the courtroom. Fellow radicals (and many moderate liberals) were outraged by the proceedings, but Watson observes that most Americans were too caught up in the “amusement park” mentality of the 1920s to care about them—a conclusion slightly at odds with the passionate debate to this day over their guilt. Watson quotes extensively from Sacco and Vanzetti’s letters, with their imperfect English, to flesh out their personalities (he has also written an introduction to a new Penguin Classics edition of the correspondence). 16 pages of b&w photos.

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