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Miriam Pawel
Author of The Union Of Their Dreams
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Mar 16, 2010
Here's another video clip from the discussion at the National Steinbeck Center, one that captures some of the emotion as people who lived through the turbulent times try to understand what went wrong -- why the UFW faltered in the 1980s, and why Chavez threw out some of the most talented farmworker leaders. In this short clip, a German volunteer who was kicked out of the union in one of the earliest purges poses the question of whether there was a turning point, and Chris Hartmire and I talk about the significance of the 1975 Agricultural Labor Relations Law in... Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2009 at The Union Of Their Dreams
For the people whose stories are told in "The Union of Their Dreams,'' reading the book has brought on many emotions -- joy, catharsis, pain, sadness, discomfort, enlightenment. It's not easy to confront one's own past and relive decisions made decades ago. While each of the major figures in the book has responded differently, they all have expressed one common sentiment: How much they did not know. In this short video, put together from the book launch at the National Steinbeck Center, three of the central characters in the book talk frankly and movingly about their emotions and discoveries, and... Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2009 at The Union Of Their Dreams
As I travel around talking about "The Union of Their Dreams," I keep running into people who grew up boycotting grapes, lettuce and Gallo wine. "I still don't eat iceberg lettuce,'' one woman said in Amherst. I've been asked a few times if the grape boycott ever ended (it did -- many years ago). But for many people, particularly baby boomers on the East coast, the boycott is the primary association with Cesar Chavez and the UFW. Even back during the height of the boycott, there was often a lot of confusion about just which produce UFW supporters were supposed... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2009 at The Union Of Their Dreams
It's been a great week for attention to "The Union of Their Dreams" in all sorts of venues .... from a recommendation in School Library Journal as an adult book that high school students should read, to a lead review in the Sunday Los Angeles Times. The book was featured in a Telemundo report in Bakersfield, mentioned in Tablet Magazine's weekly round-up of new reads, and was the subject of an insightful feature in the San Antonio Express-News. Even in this age of shrinking newspapers and newspaper readers, it's clear that a review in a paper like the LA Times... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2009 at The Union Of Their Dreams
Grape growers in Delano, ex-farmworkers in Salinas, historians at Stanford University, and old boycotters and UFW volunteers everywhere ..... an eclectic mix! In the past week, I've spoken in Salinas, Bakersfield, Pasadena, Palo Alto and Menlo Park to audiences that included farmworkers, growers, ex-UFW volunteers, journalists, and historians -- along with a few interested readers who had no direct tie or previous connection to the subject. Historians are interested in the book because the archival research documents much about Chavez and his movement that has never been written before. People who lived through the turbulent times are fascinated by learning... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2009 at The Union Of Their Dreams
I've been trying to find time, between book events around California, to compose a post that conveys some sense of the moving and powerful discussion last week at the book launch at the National Steinbeck Center. Key participants in the UFW movement -- Jerry Cohen, Chris Hartmire, Sabino Lopez, Sandy Nathan, Ellen Eggers, Chava Bustamante and Scott Washburn -- talked about their own roles, about their portrayal in the book, and about what they learned from reading "The Union of Their Dreams." At points, they confronted one another -- and offered public apologies for actions they took long ago. The... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2009 at The Union Of Their Dreams
I was on Larry Mantle's show this morning to talk about "The Union of Their Dreams." Here's a link where you can listen to the segment, in which we discussed Chavez the reality vs. Chavez the legend, the problems of relying on people's memories, Chavez's position on illegal immigration, and the situation in the fields today. Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2009 at The Union Of Their Dreams
One of my goals in writing "The Union of Their Dreams" was to spark a conversation about farm workers and agricultural labor, to help make farm workers visible again in a way they have not been for decades. This blog will be part of that effort. I will be posting news and comments related specifically to the book, and also news related to the fields that is tied more tangentially to the history related in the book. I invite your questions, comments and thoughts and will try to respond to as many of them as possible. Please join me in... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2009 at The Union Of Their Dreams
Tonite is the official "book launch" at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas , a very fitting place since the discussion will take place in the very room where the opening scene of the book takes place. I'll be joined by Jerry Cohen, Chris Hartmire, Sabino Lopez, Sandy Nathan and Ellen Eggers in what should be a very interesting discussion about the book and how it was written. The event will be videotaped as well. The Monterey County Weekly did a great cover story and package of stories in the current issue about the book and the event. Here's a... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2009 at The Union Of Their Dreams