Sal Si Puedes (Escape If You Can): Cesar Chavez and the New American Revolution

Overview


In the summer of 1968 Peter Matthiessen met Cesar Chavez for the first time. They were the same age: forty-one. Matthiessen lived in New York City, while Chavez lived in the Central Valley farm town of Delano, where the grape strike was unfolding. This book is Matthiessen’s panoramic yet finely detailed account of the three years he spent working and traveling with Chavez, including to Sal Si Puedes, the San Jose barrio where Chavez began his organizing. Matthiessen provides a candid look into the many sides of ...
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Sal Si Puedes (Escape If You Can): Cesar Chavez and the New American Revolution

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Overview


In the summer of 1968 Peter Matthiessen met Cesar Chavez for the first time. They were the same age: forty-one. Matthiessen lived in New York City, while Chavez lived in the Central Valley farm town of Delano, where the grape strike was unfolding. This book is Matthiessen’s panoramic yet finely detailed account of the three years he spent working and traveling with Chavez, including to Sal Si Puedes, the San Jose barrio where Chavez began his organizing. Matthiessen provides a candid look into the many sides of this enigmatic and charismatic leader who lived by the laws of nonviolence.

Sal Si Puedes is less reportage than living history. In its pages a whole era comes alive: the Chicano, Black Power, and antiwar movements; the browning of the labor movement; Chavez’s fasts; the nationwide boycott of California grapes. When Chavez died in 1993, tens of thousands gathered at his funeral. It was a clear sign of how beloved he was and how important his life had been.

A new foreword by Marc Grossman considers the significance of Chavez’s legacy for our time. As well as serving as an indispensable guide to the 1960s, this book rejuvenates the extraordinary vitality of Chavez’s life and spirit, giving his message a renewed and much-needed urgency.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520225848
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 12/18/2000
  • Pages: 385
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author


Peter Matthiessen is a winner of the National Book Award and the American Book Award and is the author of over thirty books of fiction and nonfiction, including The Snow Leopard (1978), At Play in the Fields of the Lord (1965), Far Tortuga (1975), In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (1992), and Bone by Bone (1999). Chavez's longtime spokesman and personal aide Marc Grossman is currently Communications Director for the Cesar Chavez Foundation.
 
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Read an Excerpt

From the book:
The man who has threatened California has an Indian's bow nose and lank black hair, with sad eyes and an open smile that is shy and friendly; at moments he is beautiful, like a dark seraph. He is five feet six inches tall, and since his twenty-five-day fast the previous winter, has weighed no more than one hundred and fifty pounds. Yet the word "slight" does not properly describe him. There is an effect of being centered in himself so that no energy is wasted, an effect of density; at the same time, he walks as lightly as a fox. One feels immediately that this man does not stumble, and that to get where he is going he will walk all day.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2004

    Do you really want to escape?

    Sal Si Puedes, by Peter Matthiessen, is an excellent chronicle of the adult life of the farm workers¿ revolutionary, Cesar Chavez. This Biography written by Matthiessen is from the day he meets Chavez to the time he passed away in 1992. Chavez was a activist for the rights of all farm workers, and believed that union representation was not only a privilege, but a right of all workers. With the installment of the Bracero program, non American people brought into the united states were allowed to work in the fields, because Lobbyists in Washington were successfully able to determine that no American was willing to do the back breaking manual labor of picking and harvesting the fields in California. This book was simply put, is the best book that I have read in my young adult life. One thing that I enjoyed in this biography is the use of language. I found the linguistics easy to understand. With the easy language and prose writing, this made the biography an easy read. Because I spent a short time of my later childhood in Delano, Where the book took place, I knew exactly where everything was, and with his descriptive, powerful words, I felt like I was back in Delano. Stepping out of my own skin and looking at the book from a non-Californian¿s perspective, the description and detail is awesome. Another thing I liked about the book was the accuracy of the historical fact. Family members of mine lived in the time of the farm workers movement, and after having discussed the biography with them, they, too, agree that the accuracy and detail of events that took place are superior. The chronicling of not only the personal life, but also business life of Chavez was easily understood, and Matthiessen did an excellent job with this Biography.

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