They were assimilated immigrants, self-radicalized followers of a firebrand philosopher who published bomb-making instructions.
So yes, as some have asked: similarities do exist between Sacco and Vanzetti and brothers Tarmelan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of Boston Marathon bombing notoriety.
Nick Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were not just philosophical anarchists, but supporters of influential anarchist Luigi Galleani. Sacco and Vanzetti subscribed to Galleani’s weekly journal, Cronaca sovversiva (Subversive chronicle), which could be compared to Inspire, the online al-Quaeda magazine said to be the source of the Tsarnaevs’ bomb-making knowledge.
In the pages of Cronaca and in his other writings, Galleani promoted social revolution, endorsed the use of violence to win the “good war” against capitalism, and published practical tips for aspiring bomb makers—where to buy explosives, how to avoid arousing suspicion, how to build devices to injure the maximum number of people. Followers of Galleani were suspected of involvement in a wave of bombing attacks in the United States in 1919.
But comparing Sacco and Vanzetti to the Tsarnaevs doesn’t go very far. There is no evidence that Sacco and Vanzetti ever engaged in acts of anarchist violence themselves. The crimes of which they were convicted—payroll robbery and double murder—were not connected to radicalism. Most important, it is my conclusion after analyzing the evidence against them that the convictions of Sacco and Vanzetti were almost surely wrongful convictions, and that the men paid with their lives for crimes they did not commit.