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

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University of California Press, Dec 18, 2000 - Political Science - 385 pages
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 Sal Si Puedes, the San Jose barrio where his career as a union organizer took off. This book is Matthiessen's panoramic yet finely detailed account of the three years he spent traveling and working with Chavez. In it, Matthiessen provides a candid look into the many sides of this enigmatic and charismatic leader who lived by the laws of nonviolence.

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

A new postscript by the author brings the reader up to date as to the events that have unfolded since the writing of Sal Si Puedes. Ilan Stavans's insightful foreword 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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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13

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Page xiii - As brothers in the fight for equality,' it read in part, “I extend the hands of fellowship and good will and wish continuing success to your and your members. . . . We are together with you in spirit and in determination that our dreams for a better tomorrow will be realized.' But Chavez's heroism did not win him much of a following in Mexico, where militancy of any sort makes the government nervous. Of course, Mexicans love revolutionaries, and there were those among the left-wing intelligentsia...
Page xviii - Fighting for social justice is one of the profoundest ways in which man can say yes to man's dignity, and that really means sacrifice. There is no way on this earth in which you can say yes to man's dignity and know that you're going to be spared some sacrifice.

About the author (2000)

Winner of the National Book Award and the American Book Award, Peter Matthiessen is the author of over fifteen 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). Ilan Stavans teaches at Amherst College. He is the author of The Hispanic Condition (1995), Art and Anger (1996), and The Riddle of Cantinflas (1998), and editor of The Oxford Book of Latin American Essays (1997).

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