Review of Doomed: Sacco, Vanzetti, and the End of the American Dream

Doomed: Sacco, Vanzetti, and the End of the American Dream Doomed: Sacco, Vanzetti, and the End of the American Dream
by John Florio and Ouisie Shapiro
Middle School, High School    Roaring Brook    208 pp.
1/23    9781250621931    $19.99
e-book ed.  9781250621948    $10.99

On April 15, 1920, in South Braintree, Massachusetts (as a prologue describes), two men were shot and killed as they were transporting payroll funds to a major shoe factory. There were a handful of robbers, a getaway car, and dozens of witnesses. Surely the police could find the culprits and bring them to justice. The book then gives the backstory of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Italian immigrants looking for better lives in America. Eventually, each man is drawn to the political movement of anarchism and its promise of a brighter future for laborers, though some anarchists turn to violence. As Sacco and Vanzetti seek to eliminate evidence of their connection to anarchism amid government suspicion, they become ensnared in the search for the Braintree murderers. The xenophobic bias that dominates their trial and numerous appeals will likely seem blatant to modern readers, and the suspense of whether or not they will be executed is what drives the resolution. Primary sources are included throughout, and longer excerpts from the men’s letters conclude most chapters, reinforcing their humanity. Source notes, a bibliography, and an index are appended.

From the January/February 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.

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