The time is 1920. The place is Greenwich Village in New York City. John Ballard is a young reporter for the New York Herald. His assignment is the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants accused of killing two guards during a payroll robbery in Massachusetts. The Attorney General is determined to stamp out all left-wing organizations. The Russian revolution has taken place in 1917, and communism is spreading to other countries. There are anarchist attacks in America, a Wall Street bombing that killed 34 people. Earlier, President McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist. With prohibition there came gang wars. New York is full of immigrants, many of them Italian. John and his Irish friend Sean are caught up in all these upheavals, and with them the two daughters of a wealthy political figure.