on 5 December 1997
This is the most important testament to a now largely forgotten tragedy of American politics. Sacco and Vanzetti were essentially convicted and executed for being unpatriotic foreigners, regardless of the crime they were accused of [for which no specific evidence was presented against them]. They waited for seven years in prison before their execution, during which time they wrote these letters. Their English, though it improved through the years, was never fully accomplished. But the results are extraordinary. The letters express ideas about life, society, faith, politics and human feelings, and the often clumsy and misused language actually makes the expression more lucid and more beautiful. The path of trial, appeal and final sentencing runs through clearly, and as the end approaches the letters are inexpressibly heartbreaking, as when Sacco asks his wife to tell his daughter "that I love her so much, and again, so much." This book has been in and out of print since the late 1920's, and is often unavailable in libraries because patrons steal it. It is a blessing that Penguin has brought it back.