“This is a terrific reexamination of the Sacco and Vanzetti case by journalist Tejada, whose lively writing and reporter’s eye offer a fresh, invigorating perspective on otherwise familiar characters and... [continued in Reviews below]”—Booklist (starred review)
An in-depth reexamination with startling new insights into the controversial case
It was a bold and brutal crime—robbery and murder in broad daylight on the streets of South Braintree, Massachusetts, in 1920. Tried for the crime and convicted, two Italian-born laborers, anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, went to the electric chair in 1927, professing their innocence. Journalist Susan Tejada has spent years investigating the case, sifting through diaries and police reports and interviewing descendants of major figures. She discovers little-known facts about Sacco, Vanzetti, and their supporters, and develops a tantalizing theory about how a doomed insider may have been coerced into helping professional criminals plan the heist.
Tejada's close-up view of the case allows readers to see those involved as individual personalities. She also paints a fascinating portrait of a bygone era: Providence gangsters and Boston Brahmins; nighttime raids and midnight bombings; and immigration, unionism, draft dodging, and violent anarchism in the turbulent early years of the twentieth century. In many ways this is as much a cultural history as a true-crime mystery or courtroom drama. Because the case played out against a background of domestic terrorism, in a time that echoes our own, we have a new appreciation of the potential connection between fear and the erosion of civil liberties and miscarriages of justice.
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Reviews / Endorsements
“This is a terrific reexamination of the Sacco and Vanzetti case by journalist Tejada, whose lively writing and reporter’s eye offer a fresh, invigorating perspective on otherwise familiar characters and historical episodes. She brings the suspense and engagement of a good thriller to the events surrounding the April 1920 murders of a Massachusetts paymaster and security guard. . . . Her examination of the case and her “alternative theory” of their guilt or innocence are both compelling. . . . In the process, she has also written a very entertaining and perceptive history of early twentieth-century radicalism, anarchism, the Wobblies, and the American Labor Movement.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Journalist Tejada sifts through the evidence from the trial and revelations from documents and testimony uncovered since then, putting her findings in the context of the labor movement and the political unrest of the time. She makes convincing parallels between the anti-anarchism atmosphere surrounding the case and the terrorism-inspired hysteria prompted by 9/11, and carefully documents the indisputable fact that the defendants did not receive a fair trial, even by the lax standards of the day.”—Library Journal
“The strength of the book lies in its attention to historical context. . . . [Tejada’s] research reads like an oral history—a testimony of regional and familial ties—and that makes the book an invaluable record of lived experience. . . . With the realities of people passing and memories lapsing, Tejada’s commitment to recording and incorporating these voices in a book-length study of Sacco and Vanzetti is a welcome approach that will surely stand the test of time.” —Italian American Review
“In her gripping and vigorously researched book, Susan Tejada tells the story of Sacco and Vanzetti as it’s never been told before. In Tejada’s hands, this is a tale not of one tragedy but two men, whose guilt or innocence, even eighty-five years after their execution, remains a tantalizing mystery.”—Candice Millard, author of Destiny of the Republic
“Susan Tejada gives us Sacco and Vanzetti as real human beings ripe with complexity, which makes their sad case all the more compelling. In the process, she opens a window on a younger America, and presents this cause célèbre case as what it is, a classic drama of an unsolved crime cutting so close to society’s rawest nerves that it can still spark heated arguments a century later. This is an important story told well.”—Kenneth D. Ackerman, author of Young J. Edgar: Hoover and the Red Scare, 1919–1920
SUSAN TEJADA is a journalist and writer, serving as an editor at the National Geographic Society for many years and as editor-in-chief of World.