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The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Movement Paperback – April 15, 1998


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From Library Journal

When the Chavez family lost its farm in Arizona in 1938 during the Depression, they moved to California and became migrant workers. Cesar was outraged by the exploitation, racism, and brutality that migrant farmworkers were forced to endure. His strong religious convictions, a dedication to nonviolent change, and a skill at organizing led to the establishment of the United Farmworkers (UFW) union. "La Causa," as it was called by supporters, became an important movement for self-determination in the lives of California's Mexican American and Filipino farmworkers. The successful nationwide grape and lettuce boycotts and public support exposed the injustices of California agribusiness and resulted in the first collective bargaining agreements and union hiring halls for migrant workers. Authored by two journalists who covered Chavez and the farmworkers, this companion volume to a PBS documentary traces Chavez's life and the events and people that helped shape it. Recommended for labor and agriculture collections.?Irwin Weintraub, Rutgers Univ. Lib., New Brunswick,
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Cesar Chavez, the founder of the United Farm Workers union, was a man of principles and piety, dedicated, as Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., were, to strategies of nonviolent protest. Still controversial, Chavez is, nonetheless, beginning to fade from our collective consciousness. To preserve his story, two filmmakers, Rick Tejada-Flores and Ray Telles, created a PBS documentary titled The Fight in the Fields, and journalists Ferriss and Sandoval wrote and compiled this powerful, photo-filled biography. They trace Chavez's path from a happy childhood on his family's Arizona farm to the fields of California, where the Chavez family landed after being forced from home during the Depression and the great drought. Chavez never got over his shock at the brutality of farmworkers' lives and the blatant racism they endured. He founded the United Farm Workers union in 1962 to fight for basic human rights, devoting himself to union work at night after picking cotton all day with his wife to support their eight children. All that Chavez accomplished by organizing strikes, protests, and the now legendary grape boycott, was heroic in nature and profound in effect. Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; First Edition edition (April 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156005980
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156005982
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #747,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
I haven't read the softcover revision, but the hardback edition of Fight in the Fields is the most complete history of the farm workers' movement led by Cesar Chavez out there. It is factual and personal. I worked with Cesar 11 years and our friendship spanned three decades. I also recommend With These Hands (Harcourt Brace) by Daniel Rothenberg for the expanded picture of farm labor around the nation.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kent Braithwaite on September 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
Okay, I'm biased. I'm the author of a mystery novel in current release that features a Latino private investigator as the protagonist, and I've been teaching in a rural California high school with a student population over 98% Hispanic for over twenty years. This biography, loaded with photographs and facts, is perfect for today. It clearly proves what an exceptional man Cesar Chavez was and what exceptional accomplishments that man achieved. If you have any interest in the real America, you have to read this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By B. O'Loughlin on January 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
At a time when the Mexican-US border is rife with contention, one needs some inspiration for unity and dialogue. The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farm Workers Movement by Susan Ferriss and Ricardo Sandoval provides that inspiration. The book chronicles how Chavez, over almost a half-century of activism, used nonviolent tactics to promote unity among and justice for California's, and eventually the nation's, oppressed farm workers. Through his crusade, Chavez secured unionization for the US's farm workers and began the movement for Chicano rights. Although the book has its shortcomings, it offers a wonderful and inspiring picture of the farm worker's movement in the United States and Cesar Chavez's leading role.
Cesar Chavez's origins and experiences illuminate his later call to lead a nationwide movement. He was born Cesar Estrada Chavez on March 21, 1927 on his family's farm in Yuma, Arizona. There he lived an idyllic life learning the teachings of Catholicism until 1938 when the Great Depression forced the Chavez family to sell their land and move to California. There, Chavez experienced first-hand the brutal work, meager wages, and destitute conditions suffered by nonunionized migrant farm workers as well as the intense discrimination suffered by Chicanos. Chavez married Helen Fabela in 1948 and eventually settled in the impoverished barrio Sal Si Puedes ("Leave if you can.") in San Jose. In Sal Si Puedes, Chavez met two men who would become his greatest role models. Father Donald McDonnell taught Chavez the doctrines of Catholic Social Teaching, especially the labor-related encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII. Fred Ross recruited Chavez to work advocating for Chicano rights with the Community Service Organization.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Marsella on April 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
This very personal history of the Cesar Chavez and the UFW is a comprehensive account of the farmworkers movement and the difficulties encountered in their fight for justice and fair treatment. Very well written and illustrated.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ricardo VALVERDE on July 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
The authors did a great job of detailing the early childhood that shaped the future leader of the farm workers movement. They also do a great job of highlighting the trails, ups and downs of Cesar Chavez and the farm workers movement. One gets a good idea of just how bad conditions were before the movement and how much improvement has been made since the inception of the movement. It also touches the heart with the human aspect of the lives that were shackled in the old system and changed for the good with the reforms that were won. Cesar Chavez is a true humanitarian that should be mentioned with the likes of Martin Luther King and Gandhi. This is truly a must read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Foster on July 21, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book based upon the successful PBS/Sundance Film of the same name. While it has several wonderful attributes (some excellent and rare pictures), it does not stand up to the earlier work of London and Anderson in So Shall Ye Reap. In reality, this is more of a biography of Cesar Chavez than a careful review of agricultural labor history. In the end, I would buy it again/
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Format: Paperback
The authors note in the Preface to this 1997 book, "Cesar Chavez was the most important Latino leader this country has ever seen... The connection that the farmworkers forged between the haves and the have-nots created a remarkable moment in American history---an era in which people who would not normally meet connected and worked together to correct terrible injustices. The film and the book are an attempt to capture the intensity and focus of this remarkable movement and to help people learn its powerful lessons. With the death of Cesar Chavez in 1993, there is an urgency to preserve these memories while they are still fresh..."

They note, "Coworkers began to shun Chavez because they had heard repeated rumors he was a Communist, an accusation that flew in the face of his Catholic conservatism... The observant Cesar hit upon a countermeasure: he already knew the church wielded great authority and power in the Mexican community, so he went to Father McDonnell and some of the other priests in San Jose and asked them to issue a statement in his defense and offer him their blessing publicly before worshippers." (Pg. 49)

They point out, "Not everyone was comfortable with the emphasis on Catholic imagery. Epifanio Comacho, the caustic hero of the first rose strike, refused to carry any images of virgins, crosses, or saints. (He'd already scandalized the more religious among the strikers with a bumper sticker on his truck that read, `I too was a virgin once.') By the time the group reached Sacramento, however, Camacho would be there as well, wearing an expansive Mexican sombrero and waving a union flag." (Pg.
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