a frank look at Cesar Chavez

La-mn-so-chavez-jpg-20140319Liza Featherstone at the LA Times:

Those intent on hero worship will detest Miriam Pawel's honest, exhaustively researched biography of Cesar Chavez, the charismatic leader and founder of the United Farm Workers who famously led strikes and boycotts to improve the lot of grape pickers in the 1960s. “The Crusades of Cesar Chavez” is a biography for readers who find real human beings more compelling than icons and history more relevant than fantasy.

Chavez's accomplishments, extensively detailed by Pawel, a former Los Angeles Times writer and editor who also wrote “The Union of their Dreams,” a well-received book on the UFW, are stunning. He started a movement by organizing some of the nation's poorest workers and confronting some of the richest and most powerful bosses in California. He could inspire people to give up everything else in their lives to fight for social change. In a country generally sympathetic to capitalists, Chavez made conditions in the fields a matter of nationwide outrage.

As the farmworker movement grew, it became a serious political force, feared by growers and cultivated by politicians.

more here.