SACCO AND VANZETTI: The Case Resolved by Francis Russell


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A nostalgic look back at how the author's original Tragedy in Dedham (1962) affected him in the intervening two decades, with some updated research and a few surprises concerning America's Dreyfus Case. Russell--like Allen Weinstein, who set out to prove Alger Hiss innocent in Perjury, only to have his own research convince him of the opposite--had been a staunch defender of the popular conception of Sacco and Vanzetti as having been framed by authorities bigoted because of their double sin of being both Italians and anarchists. But overwhelmed by evidence, he was forced to change direction in midstream, thus earning the wrath of the professional cadre of Sacco and Vanzetti cultists. These idolaters were half-right, Russell has determined--Vanzetti was innocent (although he undoubtedly was one of the five men who participated in the robbery in South Braintree, Massachusetts, in 1920.). But he argues convincingly that Sacco did, indeed, fire the fatal bullets. Russell enlists on his behalf newly opened FBI files that demonstrate the ultimate fairness of the judge and all concerned in the trial, in opposition to the seedy bigotry that Felix Frankfurter wrote of in his famous Atlantic article, seven years after the trial. New ballistics tests, using modern technologies, on the guns in question appear to shatter the concept of a frame-up. The ""smoking gun, that Russell offers as incontrovertible proof--a letter sent him by the son of Giovanni Gambera, a close political ally of Sacco, in which the son shares with Russell the secret passed on to him by his late father--that everyone in the Boston anarchist circle knew that Sacco was guilty and Vanzetti innocent--will be file easiest to attack by Sacco's defenders as being spurious and hearsay, unprovable due to the death of the speaker. At this point in time, though, the case has been relegated to the realm of legend, with the unfortunate result that Russell will only be preaching to the converted. Despite the wealth of evidence presented here and in his previous book, he will continue to be vilified by the cult of those who hold fanatically to the innocence of these two presumptive martyrs to American injustice.

Pub Date: March 26th, 1986
Publisher: Harper & Row