The Crusades of Cesar Chavez

The Crusades of Cesar Chavez

A Biography

Book - 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.

Publisher: New York :, Bloomsbury Press,, 2014
ISBN: 9781608197101
Branch Call Number: 331.88 CHA 2014
Characteristics: 548 pages : illustrations


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patienceandfortitude Jul 17, 2014

In some ways this was a hard book for me to read because Chavez has been a hero of mine and this book made it clear that he was very human, especially toward the end of his career. I really enjoyed reading about the beginnings of his organizing career because it reminded me of years I spent working at a Community Organization in California. I also liked the Cursillo connection. I wish the author had more insight into Chavez's spirituality, but that may be something about which he was more private. Overall the book was a very good read and very informative, though it wound up making me quite sad, when I was hoping for inspiration.

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