JUSTICE CRUCIFIED: The Story of Sacco and Vanzetti by Roberta Strauss Feuerlicht

JUSTICE CRUCIFIED: The Story of Sacco and Vanzetti

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At the 50th anniversary of the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, a revival of interest is to be expected. Roberta Feuerlicht, author of stridently libertarian juveniles, maintains (not so originally as she seems to think) that the two Italians were persecuted as much because they were immigrants as because they were anarchists; to fully understand what occurred from the day of their arrest to their execution, she argues, one must see these events in the context of two cultures--that of the Italian immigrant and that of the American WASP. Beginning her narrative in 1620 (""the Puritans planted in the stony soil of New England the seeds of intolerance, injustice, and inequality""), Feuerlicht recounts the history of American immigrants, showing the persistent bias against new arrivals which reached a peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She also describes the political climate following the 1920 Palmer Raids which influenced the Sacco-Vanzetti case, as well as the role--sometimes positive, often damaging--which anarchist groups and the US Communist Party played in their defense. Utilizing newly translated letters by Vanzetti, as well as interviews with surviving participants and relatives, Feuerlicht constructs a rounded picture of the two victims. She controverts the ""split-guilt"" theory, which holds that Sacco was guilty and Vanzetti innocent, by demonstrating that intellectuals have always been sympathetic to the more articulate Vanzetti. Overdrawn and overblown as this is, it has the potential to be both persuasive and affecting--in proportion, perhaps, to one's unfamiliarity with this historic miscarriage of justice.

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 1977
Publisher: McGraw-Hill