cover image Doomed: Sacco, Vanzetti & the End of the American Dream

Doomed: Sacco, Vanzetti & the End of the American Dream

John Florio and Ouisie Shapiro. Roaring Brook, $20.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-250-62193-1

This well-researched nonfiction account by previous collaborators Florio and Shapiro (War in the Ring) highlights post-WWI xenophobia in the U.S. by detailing the execution of Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco (1891–1927) and Bartolomeo Vanzetti (1888–1927). In South Braintree, Mass., on Apr. 15, 1920, a shoe factory was robbed by unknown assailants. The police released the following description of the gang: “All dark complexioned except one... and probably foreigners.” By May, Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested for the robbery and eventually charged with murder; according to the authors, the two men were likely targeted because they were emigrants who had successfully evaded the draft by fleeing to Mexico, led by known anarchist Luigi Galleani (1861–1931). After a trial that included eyewitness testimony that was later retracted, and was presided by a judge who swore “he’d get them good and proper,” Sacco and Vanzetti were found guilty and sentenced to death, prompting international protest and outrage. Florio and Shapiro use straightforward prose to fiercely interrogate how biased agendas can adversely affect justice systems, summarily paralleling present-day struggles for equity, justice, and basic human rights. Historic photographs and quotes from Sacco and Vanzetti feature throughout; source notes conclude. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)