by Miriam Pawel
"The Crusades of Cesar Chavez is a biography for readers who find real human beings more compelling than icons." --Los Angeles Times
Cesar Chavez founded a labor union, launched a movement, and inspired a generation. He rose from migrant worker to icon, becoming one of the great leaders of the twentieth century. Two decades after his death, Chavez remains the most significant Latino figure in U.S. 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 whose eyes were fixed on a horizon others often could not even see. He was a brilliant strategist who sometimes stumbled, and a streetwise organizer whose pragmatism was often at odds with his soaring dreams. Drawing on thousands of documents, hundreds of hours of audiotape, 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 rise as he empowered the poor and disenfranchised and led farmworkers to historic victories over the agriculture industry. With compassion and compelling detail, she narrates the equally dramatic later years when Chavez's charismatic leadership devolved into a cult of personality, with heartbreaking consequences for his union. The Crusades of Cesar Chavez reveals how this unlikely American hero ignited one of the great social movements of our time--and left a legacy that resonates today, from California to the White House.
"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 That rarest of beasts, The Crusades of Cesar Chavez is at once an important historical document, and a compelling read." --Jon Lee Anderson, author of The Fall of Baghdad and Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life
"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." --Alice Kessler-Harris, author of A Difficult Woman: The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman
About the Author:
Miriam Pawel is the author of The Union of Their Dreams, widely acclaimed as the most nuanced history of Cesar Chavez's movement. She is a Pulitzer Prize-winning editor who spent twenty-five years working for Newsday and the Los Angeles Times. She was recently awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, and lives in Southern California.