This installment in our ongoing series of book reviews features J. Benton Heath’s assessment of Moshik Temkin’s The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial. In his review, Heath finds that Temkin’s book brings a unique international dimension to the analysis of the Sacco-Vanzetti affair, and reveals how events surrounding Sacco and Vanzetti informed ongoing dialogue on U.S. global dominance and domestic policy.
By J. Benton Heath
Two years after the 1927 execution of Italian-American anarchists Nicolai Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, H.L.Mencken wrote that their case “refuses to yield.… The victims continue to walk, haunting the conscience of America, of the civilized world.” Eight decades have passed since Mencken’s writing, yet Sacco and Vanzetti continue to stalk the public imagination, attracting renewed interest from scholars, journalists, commentators, and novelists. Temkin’s engaging and insightful work attempts to establish the historical place of Sacco and Vanzetti by focusing on the nationwide and transatlantic dimensions of their case. By focusing on the international reactions to the convictions and executions, and on the effects of foreign criticism, Temkin finds his own unique niche among the extensive scholarship on the case.