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From the Jaws of Victory

The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement

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From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement is the most comprehensive history ever written on the meteoric rise and precipitous decline of the United Farm Workers, the most successful farm labor union in United States history. Based on little-known sources and one-of-a-kind oral histories with many veterans of the farm worker movement, this book revises much of what we know about the UFW. Matt Garcia’s gripping account of the expansion of the union’s grape boycott reveals how the boycott, which UFW leader Cesar Chavez initially resisted, became the defining feature of the movement and drove the growers to sign labor contracts in 1970. Garcia vividly relates how, as the union expanded and the boycott spread across the United States, Canada, and Europe, Chavez found it more difficult to organize workers and fend off rival unions. Ultimately, the union was a victim of its own success and Chavez’s growing instability.

From the Jaws of Victory delves deeply into Chavez’s attitudes and beliefs, and how they changed over time. Garcia also presents in-depth studies of other leaders in the UFW, including Gilbert Padilla, Marshall Ganz, Dolores Huerta, and Jerry Cohen. He introduces figures such as the co-coordinator of the boycott, Jerry Brown; the undisputed leader of the international boycott, Elaine Elinson; and Harry Kubo, the Japanese American farmer who led a successful campaign against the UFW in the mid-1970s.

From Publishers Weekly

Dec 03, 2012 – This monumental chronicle complicates the heroic image of Cesar Chavez, the founder of the United Farm Workers, America's "most successful farm worker movement," showing the labor leader's role not only in the UFW's rise but also in its decline. Garcia, professor of transborder studies at Arizona State University (A World of Its Own: Race, Labor, and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900 1970) rivetingly analyzes turf-fighting, strategic failures and successes, giving women and others credit equal to Chavez's for the multicultural, international movement's formation of unprecedented coalitions. In a detailed rendering of Chavez's painful decline, Garcia finds that preoccupations with Synanon's psychological experiments and with communal living hamstrung UFW decision-making. Chavez's isolation intensified after Proposition 14, an effort to reform farm labor law, failed in 1976. Ultimately, his "famous obstinacy and a willingness to risk everything to achieve his goals" contributed to the UFW's unraveling as it struggled with management and legal oversight instead of its original, successful strategy strikes, consumer boycotts, and marches. Garcia's personal portrait of Chavez is not pretty: foul-mouthed, homophobic, power-hungry, and a philanderer. This rich and bracing account is a must-read for today's community organizers. 18 b&w photos, 1 map. .
From the Jaws of Victory
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  • $20.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: United States
  • Published: Sep 28, 2012
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Seller: University of California Press
  • Print Length: 368 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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