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The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography
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Bloomsbury Publishing 2014
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National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

Winner of the California Book Award


A searching portrait of an iconic figure long shrouded in myth by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of an acclaimed history of Chavez's movement.

Cesar Chavez founded a labor union, launched a movement, and inspired a generation. He rose from migrant worker to national icon, becoming one of the great charismatic leaders of the 20th century. Two decades after his death, Chavez remains the most significant Latino leader in US history. Yet his life story has been told only in hagiography-until now. In the first comprehensive biography of Chavez, Miriam Pawel offers a searching yet empathetic portrayal. Chavez emerges here as a visionary figure with tragic flaws; a brilliant strategist who sometimes stumbled; and a canny, streetwise organizer whose pragmatism was often at odds with his elusive, soaring dreams. He was an experimental thinker with eclectic passions-an avid, self-educated historian and a disciple of Gandhian non-violent protest. Drawing on thousands of documents and scores of interviews, this superbly written life deepens our understanding of one of Chavez's most salient qualities: his profound humanity. Pawel traces Chavez's remarkable career as he conceived strategies that empowered the poor and vanquished California's powerful agriculture industry, and his later shift from inspirational leadership to a cult of personality, with tragic consequences for the union he had built. The Crusades of Cesar Chavez reveals how this most unlikely American hero ignited one of the great social movements of our time.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
03/25/2014
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781608197149
ASIN:
B00IE3DM6E
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APA Citation (style guide)

Miriam Pawel. (2014). The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Miriam Pawel. 2014. The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Miriam Pawel, The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Miriam Pawel. The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Miriam Pawel is an award-winning reporter and editor who spent twenty-five years working for Newsday and the Los Angeles Times. She was recently an Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellow and a John Jacobs Fellow at the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies.
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The Crusades of Cesar Chavez
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National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
Winner of the California Book Award

A searching portrait of an iconic figure long shrouded in myth by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of an acclaimed history of Chavez's movement.

Cesar Chavez founded a labor union, launched a movement, and inspired a generation. He rose from migrant worker to national icon, becoming one of the great charismatic leaders of the 20th century. Two decades after his death, Chavez remains the most significant Latino leader in US history. Yet his life story has been told only in hagiography-until now.

In the first comprehensive biography of Chavez, Miriam Pawel offers a searching yet empathetic portrayal. Chavez emerges here as a visionary figure with tragic flaws; a brilliant strategist who sometimes stumbled; and a canny, streetwise organizer whose pragmatism was often at odds with his elusive, soaring dreams. He was an experimental thinker with eclectic passions-an avid, self-educated historian and a disciple of Gandhian non-violent protest. Drawing on thousands of documents and scores of interviews, this superbly written life deepens our understanding of one of Chavez's most salient qualities: his profound humanity.

Pawel traces Chavez's remarkable career as he conceived strategies that empowered the poor and vanquished California's powerful agriculture industry, and his later shift from inspirational leadership to a cult of personality, with tragic consequences for the union he had built. The Crusades of Cesar Chavez reveals how this most unlikely American hero ignited one of the great social movements of our time.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Booklist, starred review
      • content: Pawel, rigorous and captivating, follows her history of Cesar Chavez's crusade to protect farm workers' rights, The Union of Their Dreams, with a zestful, dramatic, and redefining biography of the innovative, daring, and persevering activist...Pawel thoroughly chronicles every aspect of Chavez's battles against California's politically dominant produce growers, from audacious strikes to the now legendary national grape boycott to his penitential fasts. As she insightfully dissects Chavez's troubled relationships with his inner circle and each phase in the rise and fall of his increasingly complex and mismanaged organization, Pawel portrays a visionary civil rights leader whose fame and near-beatification engendered tragic misuses of power, but who improved countless lives and raised global consciousness. Chavez's epic story, told so astutely and passionately by Pawel, is essential to understanding today's struggles for justice and equality.
      • premium: False
      • source: Library Journal (starred review)
      • content: Pawel paints a complex portrait of Chavez with all his strengths and weaknesses...The author's insightful, painstakingly researched, and thoughtful work makes Chavez all the more dimensional and nuanced by recognizing his failings as well as his successes. This fully rounded portrait could well be the definitive biography of this all too human figure.
      • premium: False
      • source: Richard Rodriguez, author of DARLING: A Spiritual Autobiography and HUNGER OF MEMORY: The Education of Richard Rodriguez
      • content: Miriam Pawel's magnificent biography of Cesar Chavez has the force and scope of a great American novel. Here is the story of a man, from the humblest beginnings, who became a labor organizer as famous as any; here is a deeply flawed man who yearned to be a saint.
      • premium: False
      • source: Peter Matthiessen, author of Shadow Country and Sal Si Puedes: Cesar Chavez and the New American Revolution
      • content: Miriam Pawel's new biography The Crusades of Cesar Chavez, massively researched and expertly written, is a welcome expansion and enrichment of her earlier study The Union of Their Dreams. Together they represent the definitive story of this charismatic farm worker and controversial visionary leader whose courage and near-genius as an organizer invigorated the stormy history of American labor.
      • premium: False
      • source: Ilan Stavans, Amherst College, author of The United States of Mestizo
      • content: Guau! Miriam Pawel has finally given us the Cesar Chavez we deserve: neither a saint nor a bully but a complex American activist who rose to the occasion with courage, astuteness, and intuition, but was also clumsy, misinformed, and nearsighted. Written in a beautifully nuanced style and displaying enviable depth of knowledge, The Crusades of Cesar Chavez is a masterpiece. Future biographies will be measured against it.
      • premium: False
      • source: Kurt Andersen, author of True Believers
      • content: Miriam Pawel has produced the definitive account—a lucid, thoughtful, evocative, deeply reported, bracingly honest account—of the life of one of our most consequential modern agents of change. And what a perfect moment for this book's appearance, as the explosion of the Latino population, the implosion of the union moment, immigration policy gridlock and growing inequality have become defining issues of our American moment.
      • premium: False
      • source: Jon Lee Anderson, author of The Fall of Baghdad and Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life
      • content: This is a remarkable account of the life of Cesar Chavez and of his iconic struggle for justice for America's migrant farmworkers. Miriam Pawel provides a vivid narrative that is unmatched for the authenticity of its behind-the-scenes detail. That rarest of beasts, The Crusades of Cesar Chavez is at once an important historical document, and a compelling read.
      • premium: False
      • source: Alice Kessler-Harris, author of A Difficult Woman: The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman
      • content: Pawel has given us an inspiring book. It introduces us to a formidable leader who drew America's most disadvantaged workers into a powerful movement. And yet every reader will identify with Cesar Chavez' human foibles; every discouraged political visionary will be moved by his story.
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews
      • content: A warts-and-all biography of an important figure.
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: A comprehensive portrait... Pawel's clear, accessible prose befits a subject famous for his plain rhetoric, ensuring a broad readership can appreciate this valuable exploration of Chavez's unique legacy.
      • premium: False
      • source: Los Angeles Times
      • content: Those intent on hero worship will detest Miriam Pawel's honest, exhaustively researched biography of Cesar Chavez, the charismatic leader and founder of the United Farm Workers w
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        February 17, 2014
        In her second book on Chavez, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Pawel (The Union of Their Dreams) turns away from the United Farm Workers organization to offer a comprehensive portrait of its founder, a “poor, brown, and homeless” child whose career as a “eccentrically charismatic” community organizer saw him join his idol Gandhi in the pantheon of celebrated nonviolent activists. Chavez, often remembered in murals as a solitary hunger striker, receives greater contextualization by examining his long and complex relationships with his associates, many of whom were interviewed for this work. Some relationships are particularly revealing, as when his own lifelong plea that his followers “refrain from violence” is contradicted by a tolerance of violent activism of his “troublemaker cousin.” Chavez comes across as a shrewd leader with a “willingness to endure” hardship for la causa, yet was also demanding and increasingly authoritarian and suspicious of his colleagues later in his career. Particularly intriguing is Chavez’s little memorialized relationship with the Synanon cult group, from whom he zealously appropriated “authoritarian tactics” of group therapy for his own commune, La Paz, throughout the 1970s. Pawel’s clear, accessible prose befits a subject famous for his plain rhetoric, ensuring a broad readership can appreciate this valuable exploration of Chavez’s unique legacy. Agent: Gloria Loomis, Watkins/Loomis Agency.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        February 15, 2014
        An exhaustive study of the life and work of iconic labor leader Cesar Chavez (1927-1993). In a follow-up to her previous book about the United Farm Workers (The Union of their Dreams, 2009), former Newsday and Los Angeles Times editor Pawel examines Chavez's transformation from a dedicated advocate for the rights of the poor and exploited to a corrupt leader charged with misappropriating funds and dictatorial rule over the union he founded. The author shows that Chavez was a man of his times. Despite his tarred reputation as a union leader, his legend still inspires young Hispanic workers with his slogan, "Si se pueda"--yes, it can be done. The child of itinerant farm laborers who was forced to drop out of school to work in the fields, Chavez found few opportunities after his return home after service in the military. Eventually, he found work in the lumberyards. In Delano, Calif., his hometown, Mexican-Americans were at the bottom of the social pyramid. Chavez joined the Community Service Organization in Los Angeles and quickly became a leading member. The CSO led a voter registration drive, ran English classes and set up a credit union. Organized by a priest and a local community worker, it was a chapter of the national network of community organizations launched by Saul Alinsky. When their voter registration campaign stalled, Chavez, with Alinsky's backing, founded the UFW and began a campaign to organize grape pickers after the grape growers moved to import undocumented Mexican workers and force down wages. Chavez recruited outside support from the broader liberal community and students and launched nationwide boycotts. As a result, writes Pawel, "Mexican Americans once shut out of power...[have] become the establishment in venues that had once been bastions of Anglo power." A warts-and-all biography of an important figure.

        COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        October 1, 2013
        A Pulitzer Prize-winning editor who has worked for "Newsday" and the "Los Angeles Times" and author of a book about Cesar Chavez's movement, "The Union of Their Dreams", Southern California-based Pawel offers what's billed as analysis rather than hero worship. Big West Coast promotion.

        Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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shortDescription
National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
Winner of the California Book Award

A searching portrait of an iconic figure long shrouded in myth by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of an acclaimed history of Chavez's movement.

Cesar Chavez founded a labor union, launched a movement, and inspired a generation. He rose from migrant worker to national icon, becoming one of the great charismatic leaders of the 20th century. Two decades after his death, Chavez remains the most significant Latino leader in US history. Yet his life story has been told only in hagiography-until now.

In the first comprehensive biography of Chavez, Miriam Pawel offers a searching yet empathetic portrayal. Chavez emerges here as a visionary figure with tragic flaws; a brilliant strategist who sometimes stumbled; and a canny, streetwise organizer whose pragmatism was often at odds with his elusive, soaring dreams. He was an experimental...
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awards
      • source: The National Book Critics Circle
      • value: National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
subtitle
A Biography
publisher
Bloomsbury Publishing