April 15, 1920 in South Braintree, Massachusetts, started off like any other day – people walking the streets, fixing cars, and, for the employees of The Slater and Morrill Shoe Factory, it was payday. Unfortunately, there had been quite a few robberies in the area, but that didn’t stop the delivery of the payroll envelopes full of cash – approximately $15,000 in cash – to the other building that Slater and Morrill used in their business. That day, the two gentlemen who were carrying the boxes full of cash were suddenly ambushed, shot and killed in front of dozens of witnesses right out in the middle of the road. The murderers escaped and two innocent men died that day. In this new edition in his Eisner Award Winning series, A Treasury of XXth Century Murder, Rick Geary once again writes a tale of intrigue, murder, suspense, and possibly wrongful execution.

Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco were both born and raised in Italy, with only a 2 year age difference between them. Around the same time, they separately moved to America for a better life, and soon found themselves sympathizing with the Socialist Movement of the day due to their work in many different factories. They also expressed their interest in the local Anarchist movement that had sprung up around the Boston area in 1917. They were hard workers, although with their leftish leanings, were starting to show up on the Government’s radar. The night of the murders, they were picked up by police for acting suspicious on a streetcar; their lives would never be the same again.

Over the course of seven years, Sacco and Vanzetti were tried and ultimately executed for the murder of the two men in Massachusetts. However, during the time of their trial right up to today, there have been lingering doubts of their guilt. What of the judge who vowed to send them to their deaths regardless of the evidence exonerating them, the numerous eyewitnesses who recanted their identification of the two men, the idea that they were being railroaded because of their associations with the Socialist and Anarchist movements of the day? All of these things were pushed aside or forgotten in order to bring a guilty verdict to both of them. Yet, it has been concluded that the fatal bullet came from a gun of Sacco’s – were they innocent, guilty or a little of both? The story is fascinating and intriguing and will hold a reader’s attention right up to the bitter end. Any book in Geary’s Murder series (A Treasury of XXth Century Murder or A Treasury of Victorian Murder) would be a great read for any teen or adult interested in historical fiction or true crime stories. His books are always meticulously researched and reported and his writing style is never dry – always lively and engaging.

Like other books in this wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated series, Rick Geary brings readers a story that they think they already know, but they soon realize they knew much less than they realized. Mistaken identity, false imprisonment, doubt on both sides fill all of Rick’s stories to the point that the reader realizes that maybe they never really can know what truly happened. Rick’s style of illustration are what some might call simple black and white line drawings, but they are anything but simple. His ability to purely show maps, interiors and people is a gift that goes perfectly with his matter of fact way of writing. If the illustrations were garish or even colorful, they would take away from the story at hand; the story and illustrations work perfectly together, complimenting each other and allowing the story to move forward without any one piece overshadowing another. Another great true crime story by Rick Geary!

The Lives of Sacco and Vanzetti (A Treasury of XXth Century Murder)
by Rick Geary
ISBN: 9781561636228
NBM/Comicslit, 2011

  • Traci

    | She/Her

    Traci has been a graphic novel selector and collections coordinator for kids and teens in libraries in Arizona and Oregon since 2005. She served as the chair of YALSA's Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection committee, and served as a member of the Great Graphic Novels for Teens blogging team. She previously coordinated the Oregon Young Adult Network’s Graphic Rave list, OYAN’s yearly list of the best graphic reads for teens. Traci is a member of ALA, YALSA, and GNCRT. And, she achieved her greatest dream ever by serving as a judge for the 2019 Eisner Awards.

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