A warts-and-all biography of an important figure.



An exhaustive study of the life and work of iconic labor leader Cesar Chavez (1927–1993).

In a follow-up to her previous book about the United Farm Workers (The Union of their Dreams, 2009), former Newsday and Los Angeles Times editor Pawel examines Chavez's transformation from a dedicated advocate for the rights of the poor and exploited to a corrupt leader charged with misappropriating funds and dictatorial rule over the union he founded. The author shows that Chavez was a man of his times. Despite his tarred reputation as a union leader, his legend still inspires young Hispanic workers with his slogan, “Si se puede”—yes, it can be done. The child of itinerant farm laborers who was forced to drop out of school to work in the fields, Chavez found few opportunities after his return home after service in the military. Eventually, he found work in the lumberyards. In Delano, Calif., his hometown, Mexican-Americans were at the bottom of the social pyramid. Chavez joined the Community Service Organization in Los Angeles and quickly became a leading member. The CSO led a voter registration drive, ran English classes and set up a credit union. Organized by a priest and a local community worker, it was a chapter of the national network of community organizations launched by Saul Alinsky. When their voter registration campaign stalled, Chavez, with Alinsky’s backing, founded the UFW and began a campaign to organize grape pickers after the grape growers moved to import undocumented Mexican workers and force down wages. Chavez recruited outside support from the broader liberal community and students and launched nationwide boycotts. As a result, writes Pawel, “Mexican Americans once shut out of power…[have] become the establishment in venues that had once been bastions of Anglo power.”

A warts-and-all biography of an important figure.

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60819-710-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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