“Why did you decide to write about Sacco and Vanzetti?”
This is the question people ask me most frequently, and the truth is: I’m not sure.
I grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, a city with a role in the story of Nick and Bartolo, but the hometown connection doesn’t fully explain my enduring obsession with the case.
I think it had something to do with a drive to try to solve an unsolved mystery, as if the answer just had to be there if I followed the research trail to the end.
It also had something to do with a need to understand the past, because in this case the past—with vexing problems of immigration reform, labor organizing, domestic terrorism, class warfare, and liberal-conservative conflict—is so much like the present.
And it surely had something to do with a desire to understand Sacco and Vanzetti as real human beings, not as the sanitized creatures of hagiographers.