Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Friday, August 11, 2023

Doomed: Sacco, Vanzetti & the End of the American Dream by John Florio and Ouisie Shapiro

Doomed: Sacco, Vanzetti & the End of the American Dream
By John Florio and Ouisie Shapiro
Roaring Brook Press. 2023

The story of Sacco & Vanzetti has been something I've known about since childhood. My maternal grandparents were Italian. They both immigrated to the United States around 1906, around the same time as Sacco & Vanzetti. Though my grandparents never met Sacco & Vanzetti, they knew discrimination first-hand and strongly believed the two men were wrongly accused just because they were Italian.

Nicola Sacco arrived in the United States, the land of dreams, on April 12, 1908. He was sixteen-years-old. On June 19, 1908, twenty-year-old Bartolomero Vanzetti, landed in New York Harbor, also eager to pursue the American dream. 

This fast-paced, action-packed nonfiction narrative gives readers a front row seat in this controversial trial that made headlines around the world. 

The book is engaging, with black & white well-captioned historic photos completing the text. The inclusion of what was happening throughout the world offers a broad perspective on what led up to the negative attitude Americans felt towards Italian immigrants. The authors, Florio and Shapiro, do not shy away from the cruel nature of the death sentence and the horrific practice of death by the electric chair.

In the epilogue, the authors explore why Sacco & Vanzetti did not have fair trial and how, in 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued an apology and declared, "that the trial "was permeated by prejudice against foreigners and hostility toward unorthodox political views.""

Included are source notes, bibliography, and index.

If you do not know the story of Sacco & Vanzetti, then make time to read Doomed. Booktalk it to students who have an interest in history. 

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