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The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography
by Miriam Pawel
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The author draws on thousands of documents and interviews to examine the myths and achievements marking the life of the iconic Latino labor leader and civil rights activist, portraying him as a flawed but brilliant strategist who was often at odds with himself. 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 U.S. history. Yet his life story has been told only in hagiography, until now. In this biography of Chavez, the author 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. This biography deepens our understanding of one of Chavez's most salient qualities: his profound humanity. The author 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. This book reveals how this most unlikely American hero ignited one of the great social movements of our time.--From publisher's website.
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