The Lives of Sacco & Vanzetti


Rick Geary tackles the most controversial case of the 20th century. Anarchists Sacco & Vanzetti were accused of robbery and murder but so many supposedly damning pieces of evidence were questionable their  guilty verdict elicited massive protests around the world. Geary  presents us with all the twists and turns, appeals and dubious evidence after presenting us the human face of the two men, demonized by many, turned to martyrs by many others in his usual ...

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Rick Geary tackles the most controversial case of the 20th century. Anarchists Sacco & Vanzetti were accused of robbery and murder but so many supposedly damning pieces of evidence were questionable their  guilty verdict elicited massive protests around the world. Geary  presents us with all the twists and turns, appeals and dubious evidence after presenting us the human face of the two men, demonized by many, turned to martyrs by many others in his usual unflappable way.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Geary continues his campaign to use graphic novels to present complicated historical cases in a manner both clear and suspenseful with this look at the famous, controversial case. Geary lays out what is known and not known about the case, in which two Italian anarchist immigrants were put to death after being found guilty of robbery and murder. The carefully constructed narrative not only details the events of the crime, manhunt, and trial but also includes information about the lives of Sacco and Vanzetti and their families. The duo shared anarchist beliefs—creating suspicion in an era upset by the Russian revolution and the rise of communism. An unsympathetic judge rejected evidence favorable to the pair, and their execution sparked protests worldwide. Geary's linear black and white illustrations, full of straight lines and right angles, are especially helpful in lending order to the confusing and often contradictory facts. His use of maps also helps explain the events, both of the killing and the worldwide response. Geary, a cartoonist with the soul of a historian, reaches no easy conclusions, but gives readers the tools to draw their own. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"Chalk one more up for the history books and another great contribution to the country's wealth of graphic lit." —Kirkus Reviews

"Multiple stars for accessibility to difficult subject matter, fine art work, skillful narrative flow, and well documented research. Treats the politically motivated executions of the titular Italian immigrants with just due. The book will serve as a good alternative text in American history and social studies courses." —

"The quiet effectiveness of Geary's consciously old-fashioned drawing style is reinforced by his thorough recreation of period details." —Booklist

"Geary's historical mysteries always sparkle with clarity, both in the artwork and plot, and in this book he also resists the urge to decide that one side was right, all while giving the reader the most up-to-date information possible." —Teacher Librarian

"His art, as always, is ceaselessly expressive and charming, but let's also give credit to this modern American master as one whose complete craft is at its peak." —Miami Herald

"If anyone can bring an eighty year story to life, Geary is the man for the job. He tells the story with aplomb and allows another generation of students to see this case." —Library Media Connection

VOYA - Jennifer Rosenstein
Geary presents a meticulously researched account, in graphic novel format, of the trial and eventual execution of Nicola Sacco and Bartomoleo Vanzetti, whose guilt remains in question to this day. Sacco and Vanzetti were Italian anarchists convicted of murder in 1923. Even now many believe they were the victims of anti-immigrant prejudice and widespread fear of anarchism and socialism. Starting with a description of the crime and moving through the investigation, trial, and appeals, Geary presents the known facts of the case in a calm journalistic tone while using strong black-and-white art to inject emotion into his retelling. Geary adopts a deliberately antiquated art style to evoke the period and expertly uses perspective and shadow to emphasize certain events and convey a sense of mystery and tension. Overall, this is an excellent overview of the case that presents the many questions surrounding Sacco and Vanzetti's guilt that remain unresolved to this day. This overview of the case is remarkably comprehensive without being confusing or overwhelming. The book is fairly text-heavy for a graphic novel, and while Geary strives for objectivity, the writing can seem dry and pedantic. While Geary does manage to create some suspense as execution looms, this title is likely to appeal only to teens with an interest in historical crime or some background knowledge of the case. This is an excellent nonfiction graphic title, but one that is unlikely to have wide appeal. (A Treasury of Victorian Murder) Reviewer: Jennifer Rosenstein
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Geary works his magic once again, this time with a graphic novel about one of the most controversial court cases of the 20th century. In the town of South Braintree, MA, in 1920, several men committed a payroll robbery in broad daylight in front of witnesses. The criminals escaped, and the paymaster and the guard whom they shot during the robbery both died. Two Italian immigrants with anarchist sympathies but no criminal records, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, were accused of the theft. Geary tells the story of the crime, gives background on the two men, and explores the court case that inspired headlines and protests around the world. By the time he walks readers through all of the problems with the witnesses, the evidence, and the judge's prejudices, they will fully understand why so many people believe to this day that Sacco and Vanzetti were unfairly convicted. Geary's black-and-white drawings show amazing attention to detail, whether he is depicting bullets, cars, buildings, or the faces of the condemned men. This would be an excellent choice for schools and libraries looking for literary graphic novels, for teachers who want to spark discussion of the case, and for any teens looking for an enthralling nonfiction read.—Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781561636051
  • Publisher: N B M Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 8/1/2011
  • Series: A Treasury of Victorian Murder
  • Pages: 80
  • Sales rank: 830,661
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

An award-winning cartoonist and illustrator, Rick Geary has worked for Marvel Entertainment Group, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and Heavy Metal, and has contributed to National Lampoon and The New York Times Book Review.

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