The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti: The United States on Trial is a book that analyzes the enormous national and international impact of the trial and subsequent execution of the anarchist militants Nicolás Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. It only contributes to understanding the dramatic social and political struggles that accompanied the famous case, but the divisions and conflicts that continue to manifest in the United States today.
For many Americans, the recent events in Ferguson raised disturbing questions. But not all Americans were equally disturbed, or disturbed by the same things. Surveys and polls conducted since Darren Wilson, a white police officer, shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man, reveal a stark divide between whites and blacks. Whereas a clear majority of African-Americans consider the conduct of the police outrageous and typical, most white Americans were far more critical of the disorder that followed Brown’s death. Fox News and its ilk dwelled on “looters” rather than on the sources of African-American alienation. Americans seem to be stuck in an endless repetition of 1968, the year that many African-American communities erupted in anger after the murder of Martin Luther King Jr., and many white Americans responded fearfully to that anger and protest by voting for Richard Nixon.
began as the obscure local case of two Italian immigrant anarchists
accused of robbery and murder flared into an unprecedented political
and legal scandal as the perception grew that their conviction was a
judicial travesty and their execution a political murder. This book is
the first to reveal the full national and international scope of the
Sacco-Vanzetti affair, uncovering how and why the two men became the
center of a global cause célèbre that shook public opinion and
transformed America’s relationship with the world.
on extensive research on two continents, and written with verve, this
book connects the Sacco-Vanzetti affair to the most polarizing
political and social concerns of its era. Moshik Temkin contends that
the worldwide attention to the case was generated not only by the
conviction that innocent men had been condemned for their radical
politics and ethnic origins but also as part of a reaction to U.S.
global supremacy and isolationism after World War I. The author further
argues that the international protest, which helped make Sacco and
Vanzetti famous men, ultimately provoked their executions. The book
concludes by investigating the affair’s enduring repercussions and what
they reveal about global political action, terrorism, jingoism,
xenophobia, and the politics of our own time.
Selected for the long list of the 2009 Cundill International Prize in History at McGill University.