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Miriam PawelThe Crusades of Cesar Chavez

Bloomsbury Press, 2014

by David-James Gonzales on May 29, 2015

Miriam Pawel

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Cesar Chavez founded a labor union. Launched a movement. And inspired a generation. Two Decades after his death, Chavez remains the most significant Latino figure in U.S. history." So reads the inside flap of Miriam Pawel's new biography The Crusades of Cesar Chavez (Bloomsbury Press, 2014). However, while many are acquainted with the iconography of Chavez as the leader of the Farmworker Movement that took on California's powerful grape industry during the mid-to-late 1960s, much less is known about Chavez himself and his personal and organizational background prior to the formation of the National Farm Workers Association (the precursor to the United Farm Workers or UFW) or the internal dynamics and struggles between Chavez and his top brass. With great detail and empathy, Pawel provides a complex portrait of Chavez as a visionary and tireless organizer whose humility, strategic brilliance, and improbable success was matched only by his own arrogance, tactical blunders, and embarrassing defeats. We hope you enjoy listening to our fascinating conversation.

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Beatrix HoffmanHealth Care for Some: Rights and Rationing in the United States since 1930

May 28, 2015

Disputes over the definitions or legality of 'rights' and 'rationing' in their various guises have animated much of the debate around the United States Affordable Care Act. Many legislators and vocal members of their constituency have strong convictions about the state of our current national health care system and where it is going. Far fewer, […]

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Greg SiegelForensic Media: Reconstructing Accidents in Accelerated Modernity

May 26, 2015

Greg Siegel's new book is a wonderfully engaging and meticulously researched account of a dual tendency in modern technological life: treating forensic knowledge of accident causation as a key to solving the accident, and treating this knowledge as the source for the future improvement of both technology and civilization. Forensic Media: Reconstructing Accidents in Accelerated Modernity […]

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Julian E. ZelizerThe Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society

May 22, 2015

In recent decades, as Democrats and Republicans have grown more and more polarized ideologically, and gridlock has becoming increasingly standard in Congress, there has been a noticeable pining for the good old days when bipartisanship was common, and strongmen like Lyndon B. Johnson occupied the White House, ready to twist a few arms or trade […]

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Kevin M. Kruse One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America

May 22, 2015

Kevin M. Kruse is professor of history at Princeton University and author of One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America (Basic Books, 2015). Kruse argues that the idea that America was always a "Christian nation" dates from the 1930s. In opposition to FDR'S New Deal, businessmen and religious leaders began to promote the […]

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Benjamin SchmidtInventing Exoticism: Geography, Globalism, and Europe’s Early Modern World

May 19, 2015

Benjamin Schmidt's beautiful new book argues that a new form of exoticism emerged in the Netherlands between the mid-1660s and the early 1730s, thanks to a series of successful products in a broad range of media that used both text and image to engage with the non-European world. Inventing Exoticism: Geography, Globalism, and Europe's Early […]

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Nancy ShoemakerNative American Whalemen and the World: Indigenous Encounters and the Contingency of Race

May 18, 2015

For as long as Herman Melville's Moby Dick has been a staple of the American literary canon, one element often goes unnoticed. The ship commanded by the monomanacial Ahab on his quest to slay the great white whale is named the Pequod, just one letter of difference from Pequot, a Native nation living within what […]

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Juergen Matthaus, Jochen Boehler, and Klaus-Michael MallmannWar, Pacification and Mass Murder, 1939: The Einsatzgruppen in Poland

May 18, 2015

Historians have spent the last two decades detailing and explaining the actions of the Einsatzgruppen in the Soviet Union.  We now know much more than we used to about the escalation of violence in 1941 and the so-called "Holocaust by Bullets." The actions of the Einsatzgruppen in Poland, in contrast, are less well known.  But […]

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Ed ConwayThe Summit: Bretton Woods, 1944

May 18, 2015

The functioning of the global economy remains as relevant a topic as ever before. Commentators continue to debate the causes and consequences of the financial crisis that hit the United States from 2007-2008. They also continue to ask questions such as: How long will China keep purchasing the treasury bonds that the U.S. government needs […]

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Nicholas B. DirksAutobiography of an Archive: A Scholar’s Passage to India

May 18, 2015

Nicholas B. Dirks' Autobiography of an Archive: A Scholar's Passage to India (Columbia University Press, 2015) is a wonderful collection of essays, loosely arranged along the line's of the author's scholarly life. The chapters touch upon themes such as empire and the politics of knowledge, as well as the experience of archival research. Illuminating, lucid […]

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