: Union of their dreams (9781596914605) : Miriam Pawel : Books
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Union Of Their Dreams

by Miriam Pawel
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Press
  • Publishing date: 13/10/2009
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9781596914605
  • ISBN: 1596914602


The rise, fall, and legacy of the inspirational United Farm Workers movement, and the untold story of iconic community organizer Cesar Chavez.

A generation of Americans came of age boycotting grapes, swept up in a movement that vanquished California’s most powerful industry and accomplished the unthinkable: dignity and contracts for farm workers. Four decades later, Cesar Chavez’s likeness graces postage stamps, and dozens of schools and streets have been renamed in his honor. But the real story of Chavez’s farm workers’ movement?both its historic triumphs and its tragic disintegration?has remained buried beneath the hagiography.

Drawing on a rich trove of original documents, tapes, and interviews, Miriam Pawel chronicles the rise of the UFW during the heady days of civil rights struggles, the antiwar movement, and student activism in the 1960s and ’70s. From the fields, the churches, and the classrooms, hundreds were drawn to la causa by the charismatic Chavez, a brilliant risk-taker who mobilized popular support for a noble cause. But as Miriam Pawel shows, the UFW was ripped apart by the same man who built it, as Chavez proved unable to make the transition from movement icon to union leader. Pawel traces the lives of several key members of the crusade, using their stories to weave together a powerful portrait of a movement and the people who made it.

A tour de force of reporting and a spellbinding narrative, The Union of Their Dreams explores an important and untold chapter in the history of labor, civil rights, and immigration in modern America.
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.
Eliseo Medina was a teenage farmworker, longing for a way out of the fields. Chris Hartmire was a Phi Beta Kappa minister, searching for a cause. Jerry Cohen was a brash young lawyer, looking for a righteous fight. Each found answers in the audacious crusade of a soft-spoken, iron-willed man: Cesar Chavez.
They joined an eclectic cast of thousands who journeyed from fields, churches, and campuses, drawn to la causa by its charismatic leader. A brilliant risk-taker and strategist, Chavez mobilized support to build a union that accomplished the unthinkable: dignity and contracts for farmworkers. His impact spread far beyond the California fields where he began; a generation of Americans came of age marching for justice and boycotting grapes, swept up in a movement that changed their lives.
Four decades later, Chavez's likeness graces postage stamps. Dozens of streets and schools are named in his honor. But the real story of Cesar Chavez and his farm worker movement?its historic triumphs and its tragic disintegration?has remained stubbornly elusive, shrouded in legend.
Drawing on a rich trove of unpublished documents and exhaustive interviews, Miriam Pawel finally unravels this vital chapter of American history in a haunting, intimately reported narrative. With a novelist's empathy and a historian's care, Pawal chronicles the well-known story of how Chavez built the first successful union of farmworkers?and the lesser-known story of how he tore it down. The Union of Their Dreams weaves the stories of key participants into a powerful portrait of a movement, from the heady excitement of the early David-versus-Goliath victories through the pain and disillusionment of the later years, when Chavez faltered in the transition from firebrand to union leader.
The Union of Their Dreams is a spellbinding narrative that offers the definitive account of Chavez and the United Farm Workers, a milestone in the struggle for social justice in America.
"A revealing celebration of activists in the glory days of a movement for change."?Kirkus Reviews
"In this sympathetic yet courageously honest narrative, a seasoned reporter presents the history behind the legend of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Workers Movement. At the same time, Miriam Pawel pays tribute to the dreams of a generation of young Americans dedicated to social justice and the dignity of labor."?Kevin Starr, University of Southern California, author of Golden Dreams and California: A History
"This incisive and sensitive study makes a major contribution to our understanding of Cesar Chavez and the poor people’s movement he led. Moving beyond hagiography and mythology, Miriam Pawel gives new insight into the heroic struggles of some of the ordinary people who committed themselves, against unimaginable odds, to an extraordinary cause. Using an innovative approach based on exhaustive archival research, deeply illuminating oral history interviews, and keen historical judgment, Pawel puts a human face on the triumphs and failures, the tactical successes and setbacks, long-running internal struggles over leadership and direction, and above all, the tremendous courage and dignity of those who toiled in one of the most important social movements of the twentieth century."?David G. Gutiérrez, University of California, San Diego
"The Union of Their Dreams captures in fascinating detail the human stories of diverse people and how they committed themselves to the movement. It also reveals the tensions and dissensions that were a part of the union and its leadership after the early years of its formation. This is an interesting and provocative book that expands our understanding of the union from inside out."?Albert M. Camarillo, Stanford University
"Avoiding polemic or sensationalism, The Union of Their Dreams recounts for the first time how a cult of personality around Cesar Chavez (influenced by the practices of the sinister Synanon organization) ultimately betrayed the courage of the workers in the fields and the trust of a veteran organizing staff. The stories of lost campaigns and internal purges are painful, but they also transmit hugely important lessons about the necessary dialectic of militancy and democracy in labor struggles."?Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz
"Miriam Pawel combines the skills of an historian and an investigative reporter to tell the story of the remarkable people upon whose dreams the farm worker movement was established, moved forward, and forever changed the nation."?William Deverell, Director, Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West
"Anyone interested in political idealism, trade unions, leadership, mass movements, and even the Barack Obama phenomenon will have much to think about after reading this enthralling account of great accomplishment gained and lost."?Nicholas von Hoffman, author of Hoax and Citizen Cohn

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  • Startling sad insights into a movement I was once part of ...
    From Amazon

    I worked with Chavez in the early years -- around '62 and '63 and was no longer there when the events described in this book took place. The book is well-written and engaging, perhaps more so for me, as I knew many of these people. I appreciate having this information, but it makes me terribly sad that our idealistic movement went so far wrong, that our efforts to improve the lives of farm workers were becoming so successful when they were so badly undermined by the man who had been responsible for so much good

  • The Union of Their Dreams: Power, Hope, and Struggle in Cesar Chavez's Farm Worker Movement
    From Amazon

    //The Union of Their Dreams// by Miriam Pawel is a unique if troubling look at the rise and fall of the United Farm Workers (UFW) union under the direct leadership of the late Cesar Chavez. It is troubling because it is a tale told from the perspective of "disaffected former staff..." to use Chavez's own words. In addition to detailing the history of the UFW, the book focuses on the purges of early followers from the UFW, prior to Chavez's death in 1993. Perhaps this is the first attempt to demythologize a man correctly described in the book as "a world famous icon." If so, the reader should keep in mind that this is but one version of the events that occurred. A farm worker states in the book, "...we (need to) also listen to another interpretation of events." We hear little from two key UFW figures in the book, Delores Huerta and Gilbert Padilla - although Padilla is finally forced to leave the UFW. Pawel has clearly advanced the record on the UFW's achievements and failings. But it will likely be decades before a balanced and comprehensive view of Chavez's life, legend and leadership is told. Reviewed by Joseph Arellano

  • engaging account
    From Amazon

    Using a dizzying array of new sources, Pawal produces a really well written, and powerful book, de-constructing the conventional image of cesar chavez.

  • A Different View of the UFW
    From Amazon

    Miriam Pawel deftly captures the wild tapestry of movement politics and the transition to farm worker unionization in The Union of Their Dreams. The story begins in the mid-1960s in the grape fields of the San Joaquin Valley in California. There is no Internet, no email, no cell phones. The Vietnam anti-war movement is going national with the march on Washington in the spring of 1965. The Watts riots took place in the summer of 1965. Pawel presents the stories of individuals who were involved with beginnings of the United Farm Workers union (UFW). Her writing style is engaging, the narrative moves along quickly. Pawel's journalism background comes through with endnotes that are source notes. The heady enthusiasm and devotion of the early activists is abundantly evident in this book. In the late 1970s when the UFW shifted direction, the disillusionment of these individuals is understandable and sad. Some individuals stayed with the union for decades. It is hard to estimate how many young people were touched and influenced by this particular movement. In the Epilogue updates are provided for some of early organizers. Many are still working for social justice. Union of Their Dreams is particularly relevant today. While the social and political unrest today pales in comparison to the 60s and 70s, it is a time for movement politics. Individuals who did not experience the antiwar and social justice movements of the past, will learn a lot from this book. Despite the advances in communications technology, they are no replacement for commitment, struggle, or having "fire in the belly." Students of movement politics and union politics will find much to cogitate in this book. Lettuce boycotters of the 1970s will get a glimpse of goings-on behind the scenes, not all of it pretty. Pawel displays the essence of those times in her dedication: "For those who believe they can change the world." This book is a worthwhile addition to the history of the UFW.

  • The Union of Their Dreams
    From Amazon

    This book tells the story of Cesar Chavez and the UFW through the personal stories of some of the lesser-known people involved. While the book describes the UFW's well-known successes, it also spends a lot of time on what the author clearly sees as the failure to follow up on these successes, the internal chaos that both caused and resulted from this failure, and the near-collapse of the UFW. Before reading the book, I was only familiar in vague outline with Chavez and the UFW, so it's hard for me to analyze the accuracy of the portrayal. But the book, which tells its story chiefly through the interwoven stories of a number of less-well-known UFW activists, makes its argument clearly and compellingly, and left me wanting to know more.

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