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In Search of Sacco and Vanzetti: Double Lives, Troubled Times and the Massachusetts Murder Case"

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Published on Sep 19, 2012

Italian Anarchists Professed Innocence Until Their Deaths

It was a bold and brutal crime: robbery and murder in broad daylight on the streets of South Braintree, Mass., in 1920. Tried for the crime and convicted, two Italian-born laborers, anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, went to the electric chair in 1927, professing their innocence. Journalist Susan Tejada has spent years in the Library of Congress and elsewhere investigating the case, sifting through diaries and police reports and interviewing descendants of its major figures. She discovers little-known facts about Sacco, Vanzetti and their supporters, and develops a tantalizing theory about how a doomed insider may have been coerced into helping professional criminals plan the heist.

Tejada's close-up view of the case allows readers to see those involved as individual personalities. She also paints a fascinating portrait of a bygone era: Providence gangsters and Boston Brahmins; nighttime raids and midnight bombings; and immigration, unionism, draft-dodging and violent anarchism in the turbulent early years of the 20th century. In many ways this is as much a cultural history as a true-crime mystery or courtroom drama. Because the case played out against a background of domestic terrorism, it offers a new appreciation of the potential connection between fear and the erosion of civil liberties and miscarriages of justice.

Tejada is a former writer and editor at the National Geographic Society, where she was the editor-in-chief of National Geographic World magazine and the author or managing editor of geography books for young readers. A native of Providence, R.I., she served with the Peace Corps in the Philippines.

For captions, transcript, and more information visit http://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feat....

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