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Sacco and Vanzetti


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About the Author

Bruce Watson is an award-winning journalist whose articles have been published in Smithsonian, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, San Francisco Examiner, Yankee Magazine, and The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2003.


Why revisit the story of Sacco and Vanzetti 80 years after their execution for murder? Because issues raised by their case still resonate in today's world. After seven years of appeals, hunger strikes, and worldwide attention, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were put to death following their controversial trial for the murder of two security guards during a daring daytime armed robbery in Massachusetts. Were they guilty? We may never know, but Watson clearly makes the case that they deserved nothing less than a second day in court. As immigrants and avowed anarchists, Sacco and Vanzetti were met with much prejudice from police and prosecutors. We are still grappling with how we treat-and mistreat-immigrants, and we are still debating the death penalty and reopening cases to analyze DNA evidence to exonerate innocent defendants today. Journalist and author Watson (Bread and Roses: Mills, Migrants, and the Struggle for the American Dream) has written a well-researched page-turner. Highly recommended.-Karen Sandlin Silverman, CFAR (Ctr. for Applied Research), Philadelphia Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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. (Aug. 20) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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