Synopses & Reviews
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.
In this book (the title which translates as "Escape if You Can") National Book Award winner and novelist Peter Matthiessen gives us a priceless portrait of his friend, political activist and union organizer Cesar Chavez.
"Reading this book becomes an act of self-confrontation, for Peter Matthiessen has made it clear that Cesar Chavez's battle is not only for the agricultural workers but for the redemption of the country. In illuminating the intactness of this one man, Matthiessen provides a measure for the rest of us."Nat Hentoff
About the Author
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