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Why David Sometimes Wins: Leadership, Organization, and Strategy in the California Farm Worker Movement
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Why David Sometimes Wins: Leadership, Organization, and Strategy in the California Farm Worker Movement

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  134 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Why David Sometimes Wins tells the story of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers' groundbreaking victory, drawing important lessons from this dramatic tale. Since the 1900s, large-scale agricultural enterprises relied on migrant labor--a cheap, unorganized, and powerless workforce. In 1965, when some 800 Filipino grape workers began to strike under the aegis of the AFL ...more
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 25th 2008)
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David  Cook
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I became involved in farm worker issues in the late 80's. I have handled many pro bono cases on behalf of farm workers and was excited to read this book. I have also worked closely with farm worker advocacy groups and represented agriculture so I understand fairly well both sides of the issues faced by farm workers. The book was enthralling as to the history and strategy of the early days of UFW and the battles, success and defeats. The story however profoundly disappointing when one learns of t ...more
Marshall Ganz worked for many years with the farm workers in California under Cesar Chavez. This book, which I believe is Ganz's doctoral dissertation recounts and analyzes the history of the farm workers in the 1960's when they had their greatest success. Combining insights from both the civil rights and labor movements, the farm workers were successful because they were innovative, utilized the competencies of the people in their group and drew on their cultural and ethnic background. While at ...more
Nick Klagge
Feb 11, 2011 rated it liked it
This was an assigned text for my grad school class, Strategic Management. The author, Ganz, is an Anglo guy who got involved with Cesar Chavez and the organization of California farm workers in the 1960s. Although nominally an academic study, the book is really mostly a narrative of the rise of Chavez and the UFW, with occasional asides about organizational strategy and learning.

Before reading this book I only had a cultural familiarity, in the vaguest sense, with the events that it describes.
May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great narrative history of one of the most important junctures in American labor history: the Delano grape workers' strike, which culminated with the victory of Cesar Chavez' relatively small United Farm Workers, against much better funded and well-established unions. As a key player at the center of the narrative, Marshall Ganz, who later designed the Obama campaign's strategy in 2008 election, has a unique perspective and insight to tell the story.

The question he tries to answer is why UFW su
Dan Petegorsky
Aug 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Ganz's thoughtful book is not so much a history of the UFW and the farmworker movement as an interpretation of its early success in the mid-1960s as an example of the efficacy of what he calls "strategic capacity": the ability to turn the various resources organizers have at their disposal into the power they need to achieve their objectives.

Given his high profile role in advising Barack Obama's campaign, not to mention his current position at Harvard, Ganz has a good platform now to revisit the
Aug 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Great job, Marshall! Many of us who worked for the UFW could not wait to get our hands on this book. Ganz worked for the UFW for several decades, starting as a college volunteer, moving on to become a full-time organizer of some of the major strikes in grapes and lettuce, and eventually being elected to the executive board. Quite a trajectory. The inside stories he tells are really worthwhile both for movement veterans, and young people who want to learn the day-to-day nitty gritty work of build ...more
Somewhat dry at times. Good history of union organizing with the farm workers, mainly in the mid 60's. I had no idea at times the different unions were fighting against each other, particularly against the Teamsters.

The end of the book jumped forward quickly. Would have liked more there. The main difficulty with the book overall was the generalizations of what happened. There were moments of specifics, but more of that, more of a story, would have made for a better book. Felt more text book lik
Jun 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting book that isn't rooted in history but rather principles. Not sure if I would recommend it to others. I don't believe in the idea that strategies can merely be replicated across unions to ensure the same result. I think what UFW had and the exact conditions that ensured its success are more more worthy of examining though I appreciate the case study presented by Ganz.
Trey J Hunt
Mar 30, 2020 rated it did not like it
The picturesque example of textbooks not approachable for the general public. Great subject matter, unappetizing writing.
Dec 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Good. But for someone associated with Story of Self (Ganz), the story here could have been more compelling.
This book is ultimately less about the UFW and more about the types of strategy that organizations and movements may find most successful.

"I this book, I will argue that the UFW succeeded, while the rival AFL-CIO and teamsters failed because the UFW's leadership devised more effective strategy, in a fact a stream of effective strategy. The UFW was able to do this because the motivation of its leaders was greater than that of their rivals; they had better access to salient knowledge; and their d
Dan Ancona
Jan 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Outstanding conceptual framework for understanding strategic capacity (his model in five words: motivation, information and learning organizations), coupled with a great California history lesson, and with a meditation on organizational development, effectiveness and decline on top of it all. Movement required reading.
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great history of the UFW, it's rise and fall. Something to learn from as we try to once again grow in unions so that workers as multiple David's can have a fighting change against Goliaths the corporations). Actually an exciting process to see the strengths the UFW had and how they were lost as the union became more successful. A textbook for future organizers and unions to take to heart.
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for those interested in racial justice organizing and organizing in general. Any amazing story with fabulous insights. A very sad ending!
David Cohen
Feb 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Interesting theories on organizing.
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