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Sal Si Puedes (Escape If You Can): Cesar Chavez and the New American Revolution

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  66 ratings  ·  8 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 Cha ...more
Paperback, 385 pages
Published December 18th 2000 by University of California Press (first published December 31st 1970)
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Clarke Owens
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written book, it was consistently interesting to me on a number of levels. Perhaps most interesting was the analysis of Chavez's character, the view of him as a unique leader. He was not like Martin Luther King, not like Robert Kennedy (whom he supported in 1968), not a politician, not an intellectual (although he did read books). Rather, he was an organizer and a man seemingly without an ego. The book reveals his humanity, especially in the later chapters where we see problems he ...more
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, justice
Great labor history, told journalistically visiting Cesar Chavez in the uncertain midst of 1968 grape harvest strikes and boycott, but bringing in immigration history, rebuttals to the violence of growers, and conflicts in a nonviolent struggle. Moments of HST cynical systemic humor too. Chavez presented as nearly saintly, glad every time he mentions Dolores Huerta it is with glowing praise too.
max thien
Read for HIST17C: History Of The United States From 1900-Present
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved Sal Si Puedes. I was inspired to read it after hearing an interview with Peter Matthiessen on NPR. He was so impressive – incredibly sharp, warm, and full of life. I was saddened to hear that he passed away soon after the interview aired. Matthiessen has obviously been a prolific writer and Cesar Chavez has always fascinated me, so I decided to start with Sal Si Puedes. I was not disappointed – excellent writer and excellent topic.

The book is notable because although factual
Chi Chi
Aug 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
It's a pretty dry and journalistic read, but its also a very important read. Like most people growing up in the U.S., I've always heard about Cesar Chavez, but never actaully studied what he did. Matthiessen followed him for the better part of the strike, and does a good job detailing all the factors of their struggle for fair treatment of workers in the fields. My only real regret is that you don't get as much detail going over the before and after, but that would require the book to be like 60 ...more
John Beck
Jun 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, non-fiction
It is easy to write a biography of a hero and to see him only at his best. Peter Matthiessen does so much more in Sal Si Puedes. By focusing his history around the time he spent with Cesar Chavez he gives the narrative the immediacy that is so often lacking from biography. By depicting his subject in such nuance, Matthiessen brings Chavez to life in a way that celebrates his humanity.
May 10, 2016 rated it liked it
The life of Cesar Chavez was inspiring, but I got to admit this book goes into a lot of detail. The book starts off good and in the middle I started to get bored. The author should have put less detail and more important facts. After all the book was good to read.
Bob Peru
Aug 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
nice vignette of a great man. the author hangs with chavez for awhile and shows the simple greatness behind all that the AFW accomplished.

fuck grapes.
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Peter Matthiessen is the author of more than thirty books and the only writer to win the National Book Award for both non-fiction (The Snow Leopard, in two categories, in 1979 and 1980) and fiction (Shadow Country, in 2008). A co-founder of The Paris Review and a world-renowned naturalist, explorer and activist, he died in April 2014.

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