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The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography

The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography
by Miriam Pawel

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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The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography
Mary Ann Gwinn

Mary Ann Says:

Most Americans are aware that Chavez was a crusader for the rights of farmworkers in 20th century California. What I did not know was the role the Catholic Church played in teaching him about organizing and advocating. Early on, two progressive Catholic priests who were involved in recruiting farmworkers to the cause recognized that Chavez had a gift for reaching out to people. This is a terrifically well written book.

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