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The Lives of Sacco & Vanzetti Hardcover – August 1, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"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." —www.blog.SchoolLibraryJournal.com

"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

About 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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: NBM Publishing (August 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561636053
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561636051
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,227,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I'm probably all out of superlatives to describe Rick Geary's "Murder Treasury" books -- eight books were published in the "Treasury of Victorian Murder" from 1995 through 2007, and four since then have comprised the "Treasury of XXth Century Murder" -- since I've reviewed many of them over the past few years.

2011's entry in the series is THE LIVES OF SACCO AND VANZETTI, an impeccably researched, carefully constructed, and utterly engrossing book about two anarchists convicted and executed for murder in the early 1920s, despite mixed evidence and world-wide outrage about the case. (It was one of the very first times that there really was world-wide coverage of a single event, in that first era in which news truly became global.)

As usual, Geary doesn't pick a side -- he presents all of the evidence, as dispassionately as possible, and ends with a page detailing the best arguments on both sides. (He clearly prefers murder stories that are still mysteries, decades later -- the stories that are unfinished, and will never be fully closed.) And his linework is as precise and detailed -- just this side of finicky -- as ever. I find that the least-known cases make for the most fascinating Geary books, since all of the facts are completely new, but even this heavily picked-over piece of history gives him a lot of scope to retell the story.
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Format: Hardcover
Reason for Reading: Next in the series.

I have to admit I wasn't looking forward to this one *that* much as I prefer the ones about the bloody serial killers like "Beast of Chicago". I had never heard of this case and the robbery/murder, socialist/anarchist angle didn't get me that excited. Surprisingly though once I started reading I was quite taken with this case, especially the proceedings of the trial and the way the reader is left ruminating whether they were in fact guilty or innocent. It's amazing that with how this became such a worldwide controversy, with many country leaders of the 1920's and famous personages speaking out on the case that it has become so obscure today. One would think their names, at least, would have been remembered. I can only say what a pleasure it was to read Geary again, nobody (and I mean *no* body) does b/w graphic novels like Rick Geary. His artwork and presentation of these true crimes is pure joy to hold in your hands. I like the order Geary presented the story, first with the crime being committed, then going back and telling the life stories of the two individual accused and finally ending with the trial. It is quite shocking to today's standard's to see how prejudiced a 1920s courtroom could be. We have a sense today of people being racist against others because of their religion and mostly because of the colour of their skin but it is hard to comprehend the radical racism portrayed here against the Italians simply because of the country they came from. And to see these people discredited for that in the courtroom! Geary leaves us with the list for and against their innocence, the belief many professionals have today that at least Sacco was probably guilty and leaves us to ponder the question on our own. An intriguing case I would never have found myself reading about if it weren't for this book!
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Format: Hardcover
This is the first true crime graphic novel I have ever read, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well the format lends itself to the story. Geary's illustrations have a quality of belonging to the time period-I got almost an "Untouchables" era type of feeling from them. Despite the space limitations, Geary captures facial expressions very well, in particular the smug look on Judge Thayer's face as he declares that "no bunch of parlor radicals can intimidate Web Thayer." The black-and-white drawings also present the case in a serious, non-cartoonish manner.

The narration is presented nicely, with enough text to cover the story but not so much that it overpowers or distracts from the pictures. The story is divided into logical parts and is easy to follow through its evolution from a local case into one that gained worldwide attention due to the defendants' involvement with anarchist causes and the possibility that they were framed because of their beliefs.

The ending did leave me with an unfulfilled feeling, but I believe that is due more to the facts of the case and its history in the years since 1920 than any deficiency on Geary's part. He presents the arguments, both for and against the suspects' guilt, concisely and without bias, leaving the reader to decide whether justice was done.

All in all, I enjoyed the book and recommend it, especially for people who enjoy unsolved cases or crimes set in the early 20th century.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Lives of Sacco and Vanzetti from the publisher, NBM Publishing, for the purposes of this review. However, the opinions contained within this review are mine alone and are not influenced by NBM, Rick Geary or any other party. I was allowed to keep the book, but I was not instructed or asked to write a positive review or compensated in any other way for this article.
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Format: Hardcover
1920s America, two men murder two other men who are carrying payroll money worth $15,000 and take off with another three accomplices in a car. With no leads, the police end up arresting a pair of Italian-Americans, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, at 10pm in a streetcar who are "suspicious looking" and upon further investigation are found to be heavily armed. Thus begins a complicated court case which exposes the corruption of the American "justice" system and the prejudices of a country calling itself free.

Rick Geary combs through the past and presents another wonderful book about a famous murder case long forgotten by the modern public. Geary's style is to show all sides to the case and highlight problems within it, allowing the reader to decide for themselves on the true culprit.

"Sacco and Vanzetti" is mostly the story of a court case gone wrong from unreliable witnesses taken seriously, to evidence tampering, to a prejudicial judge, to the defence's own incompetence, though the book seems to show that Sacco and Vanzetti (if you believe are innocent as I do) were simply and tragically two men in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The book is a fascinating read from start to finish with Geary telling the story of this case with clarity and eloquence, bringing to life a case over eighty years old with the ease of a master storyteller. Fans of Geary will delight in it, and rightfully so as it's a fine crime book. It might be a bit dry though for new readers to Geary looking for more action - for them I suggest Geary's other books "The Beast of Chicago" and "The Terrible Ax-Man of New Orleans".
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