The  Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers's Struggle

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The Book

Book CoverSusan Ferriss and Ricardo Sandoval have written a companion book to the documentary, The Fight in the Fields. This 350 page book with over 100 black and white photos is a biography of the inspiring leader of the movement that brought civil rights to America's migrant farmworkers.

The book includes guest essays by Carey McWilliams, Victor Villasenor, Alfredo Vea, Jr., Peter Matthiessen, Rudolfo Anaya, and others.

The book is published by Harcourt-Brace, ISBN# 0-15-100239-8.

Book Excerpts

The Death of the Short-Handled Hoe
By Susan Ferriss and Ricardo Sandoval

A Migrant Harvester's Letters Home
By Bernabe Garay

Chavez and El Teatro Campesino
By Max Benavidez

Chavez Legacy: He Nurtured Seeds of Art
By Max Benavidez

The Authors

Susan Ferriss is based in Mexico City, where she reports for the Cox News Service. As an award-winning Latino affairs reporter for theSan Francisco Examiner, Ferriss covered farmworkers for more than a decade. She also produced and directed the PBS documentary The Golden Cage (1989), which featured interviews with Chavez and illustrated the turbulent history of farmwork organizing in California.

Ricardo Sandoval reports from Mexico City for the Dallas Morning News. He covered Chavez for the San Jose Mercury News, the Stockton Record and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner.


"...the book's strength lies in its collecting the observations of so many contemporary movement eyewitnesses and presenting portraits of an array of Chavez's lifelong friends and comrades...In addition, the book acknowledges conflicts within the UFW rooted in the tensions between its nuts-and-bolts functioning as a labor union and its impact as the hub of a visionary social movement."
  - Kirkus Review

"Susan Ferriss and Ricardo Sandoval...are careful biographers with a sense of both the historical significance of Chavez and the positive impact he had on the lives of farmworkers....The authors diligently explore two of the major sources of moral strength for Chavez: the social teachings of his Catholicism and the philosophy of Mohandas Gandhi on nonviolent conflict resolution."
  - Colman McCarthy, Washington Post Book World

"Ferriss and Sandoval have given life to a history that is as vital for the farm workers and the growers, who were the chief actors in a dramatic and emotionally exhausting battle, as it is for the citizens of California and the nation as a whole. The writing is crisp; the unfolding of events, clear; and the language, colorful and engaging. Nothing is presented in a dry or detached way. Their research is substantial, including a fair amount of digging through decades of farmworker-related legislation and interviews with dozens of union officials and supporters. The authors have clearly been able to accomplish what other writers failed to do: gain coveted 'access' by the union to its headquarters at La Paz, the union's secluded retreat on the slopes of the Tehachapi Mountains."
  - Ruben Navarrette, Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Cesar Chavez, the founder of the United Farm Workers union, was a man of principles and piety, dedicated, as Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., were, to strategies of nonviolent protest. Still controversial, Chavez is, nonetheless, beginning to fade from our collective consciousness. To preserve his story, two filmmakers, Rick Tejada-Flores and Ray Telles, created a PBS documentary titled The Fight in the Fields, and journalists Ferriss and Sandoval wrote and compiled this powerful, photo-filled biography. They trace Chavez's path from a happy childhood on his family's Arizona farm to the fields of California, where the Chavez family landed after being forced from home during the Depression and the great drought. Chavez never got over his shock at the brutality of farmworkers' lives and the blatant racism they endured. He founded the United Farm Workers union in 1962 to fight for basic human rights, devoting himself to union work at night after picking cotton all day with his wife to support their eight children. All that Chavez accomplished by organizing strikes, protests, and the now legendary grape boycott, was heroic in nature and profound in effect.”
  - Donna Seaman, Booklist

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