lan jungle in which human life is “solitary,npoor, nasty, brutish, and short.”nSociety is corrupt; government is fascist;nGod is dead or dying—all the sleazy wisdomnof the 60’s and 70’s is replayed. Thenmajor characters in the three novels arenalike in that they want to live “in the moment,n” and thus all they find is a “halflifenof waiting.” Whimpering aboutntheir problems, they remain morally andnintellectually impotent to change theirnsituations. They are naturalisticallyndrawn, but, unlike their forerunners innNorris, Crane, London and Dreiser, theynmake no effort to escape. Their moralnsenses are crippled, their views of thenworld and themselves diseased.nIt is not necessarily the subjects ofnthese books that make them so irritating.nMyths, Martyrs and the MedianEdwin R. Bayley: Joe McCarthy and thenPress; University of Wisconsin Press;nMadison, Wisconsin.nBrian Jackson; The Black Flag: A LooknBack at the Strange Case of Nicola Sacconand Bartolomeo Vanzetti; Routledge &nKegan Paul of America; Boston.nby Charles A. MosernAny society nurtures myths, and thenSacco-Vanzetti and Joe McCarthy mythsnare among the most potent ones embeddednin the 20th-century political and intellectualnculture of the United States.nEach of the books above undertakes annhistorical analysis of one of these myths.nJackson asks again whether the two Italiannanarchists executed in 1927 for thenmurders of two men at South Braintree,nMassachusetts in April 1920 were indeednguilty of that crime. Bayley concenuatesnon the role of the news media in creatingnthe political phenomenon known as Mc-nCarthyism. Bayley, a journalist who cov-nProfessor Moser teaches at George WashingtonnUniversity.nm^mmmmm^t^^nChronicles of CttlturenAfter all, great writers from the Greekntragedians to Graham Greene to SaulnBellow have effectively used revenge,nmurder, violence, alienation and sex inntheir work. But they have done so withnthe assumption that somewhere beyondnthe immediate horror is a context ofnvalues which gives significance to thentrauma. Literary sex and violence outsidensuch a moral context produce nothingnmore than an ephemeral tickling of thensenses.nL here are those who suggest that thennovel as a literary genre may be dying.nThe obituary may be premature, but thencheap naivete of writers like Garner,nGates and Weinzweig may well proventerminal. Dnered McCarthy for the Milwaukee Journalnduring the Senator’s heyday, doesnnot conceal his hostility toward thatnemblematic figure of the early 1950’s,nbut he has done a remarkably painstakingnjob of reviewing the press coverage onnMcCarthy, of talking with journalists activenat the time, and of presenting divergentnviews on McCarthy’s historical significance.nJackson’s study is rather morenimpressionistic than Bayley’s, more subjective,nthough it, too, is rooted in fact.nAn Englishman, Jackson commenced hisninvestigation convinced of his subjects’ninnocence; after a careftil review of thenevidence brought out at the trial, henvisited Massachusetts to investigate stillnother material and concluded, a little unexpectedly,nthat “both the case for innocencenand the case for guilt seemednstrengthened” in his eyes. In the endnJackson cannot overcome the power ofnthe myth. He still believes Sacco and Vanzettinto have been innocent, but nownthere is an element of doubt in his mind.nHe is certain that the two men died asnsecular martyrs for the cause of socialnjustice, and it was precisely his interest innmartyrs—those who by their deathsnnn”pulled the future towards them,” as hensays—which first led him to study thenSacco-Vanzetti case.nBoth Sacco and Vanzetti were quitenconscious of the importance of their martyrdomnas an undergirding for the politicalnmyth they hoped to create. Thoughneach had a poor command of English,nthere is a compelling rhetorical quality tonthe statements in which they definednthat myth. Sacco—less the poet butnmore the political myth-maker than hisncomrade—maintained from the startnthat he would be executed for politicalnreasons, for he believed that the courts ofnMassachusetts could not possibly acquitnhim. He was much less interested thannVanzetti in pursuing legal appeals whichnmight reverse his conviction, and justnbefore his execution he wrote his sonnDante a long letter containing passagesnwhich defined the meaning of his deathnas he wished others to understand it:n. . . help the weak ones that cry fornhelp, help the persecuted, and thenvictim, because that are your betternfriends; they are the comrades thatnfight and fall as your father and Bartolonfought and fell yesterday for thenconquest of the joy of freedom for allnand the poor workers.nBecause he belonged to the oppressednclass which was necessarily victimized,nSacco held, the social reality of the momentncould tolerate no other outcomenthan his death.nWith the groundswell of support fromnwell-meaning citizens focused by suchnorganizations as the Sacco-Vanzetti DefensenCommittee, Sacco and Vanzettinhad good teason to believe their view ofnthe trial would prevail over that of, say,nthe simple jurors who condemned themnon factual gtounds, and who saw it asnnothing more than a crirriinal trial. Andnthey were correct. By the time Jacksonnbegan his research, of the vast quantity ofnliterature to have appeared on the subjectnonly four items—including but twonof much substance—maintained thatnSacco and Vanzetti (or at least Sacco)nwere actually guilty of the murders.n