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SACCO & VANZETTI

THE MEN, THE MURDERS, AND THE JUDGMENT OF MANKIND

Likely to become for a new generation of readers the definitive account of a case that still arouses controversy.

Vivid recreation of the furor surrounding America’s own Dreyfus Affair.

By any reasonable measure, the 1920 robbery that left two dead in South Braintree, Mass., ought not to have drawn headlines any farther than Boston. But from the time of their arrest, the alleged crime of shoemaker Nicola Sacco and fish peddler Bartolomeo Vanzetti, both Italian and both committed anarchists, morphed into something much larger: a test of the American justice system that reverberated worldwide. Highly credentialed in the politics and social history of the early 20th century, Watson (Bread and Roses: Mills, Migrants, and the Struggle for the American Dream, 2005, etc.) colorfully charts the trial, riddled with conflicting testimony, hopelessly compromised ballistics evidence, shady witnesses, sharp-elbowed lawyers and prejudicial rulings. He provides especially memorable portraits of the accused and of flinty prosecutor Frederick Katzmann, narrow-minded Judge Webster Thayer and flamboyantly ineffective defense attorney Fred Moore. He contextualizes the case in the frivolous, deeply corrupt ’20s, when memories of the sacrifices of World War I were still vivid and the fears that prompted the 1919 Red Scare (memorably recounted in Kenneth Ackerman’s Young J. Edgar, 2007) remained strong. The question pursued through appeals, new investigations and stays of execution was whether two immigrants with deeply unpopular politics received a fair trial in the conservative Bay State. “No,” cried a glittering list of authors (John Dos Passos, Anatole France, Dorothy Parker, Upton Sinclair, Walter Lippmann), legal experts (Felix Frankfurter, Benjamin Cardozo), intellectuals (Albert Einstein), politicians (Fiorello LaGuardia), labor unions, socialists, communists and a gaggle of Boston socialites, who took up what became an international cause. Widespread demonstrations, strikes and bombings didn’t help Sacco and Vanzetti, who were finally electrocuted on August 23, 1927.

Likely to become for a new generation of readers the definitive account of a case that still arouses controversy.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-670-06353-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2007

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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