THE COMPANION BOOK

The Fight in The Fields
Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers' Movement

Published by Harcourt Brace & Company
ISBN 0 -15 100239 - 8

by Susan Ferriss and Ricardo Sandoval
with a forward by Gary Soto
edited by Diana Hembree, photo editor Michelle McKenzie

 

In the dirt fields of California and Arizona, in the lush vineyards of the Napa Valley, in the borderlands between the U.S. and Mexico, and in supermarkets throughout America and the world, Cesar Chavez wrought monumental changes that will continue to reverberate for years to come.

Chavez's life and work transformed American society and his name has become synonymous with the struggle of American migrant farmworkers for dignity and justice through the United Farmworkers Union. The companion book tells the dramatic story of Chavez and the UFW in words and in an extraordinary collection of photographs, many of which have never been previously published.

Like Gandhi and King, Cesar Chavez was a brilliant student of the human heart, a leader who never compromised his principles, a teacher to the world. Born to a farming family in Arizona who lost their land in the Depression, Chavez dedicated his life to the struggles of migrant farmworkers, ultimately inspiring them to challenge the giant agribusinesses of the West. Yet he was also a complex man whose decisions sometimes frustrated coworkers, and in the decade before his death in 1993 the UFW was sometimes divided over its mission.

To address the union's battles within and without, Susan Ferriss and Ricardo Sandoval have brought to the companion book the voices of the men and women who were there - those who loved Chavez, and those who opposed him. In addition, essays, letters, poems and archival material - all filled with personal observation about migrant life and a passionate feeling for Chavez - add unusual depth to this biography. These include an elegy from Rudolfo Anaya, an excerpt from Peter Matthiessen's moving elegy, and Gary Soto's beautiful forward. At once intimate portrait and social history, the companion book not only follows Chavez's career but offers a convincing and moving argument for the continuing relevance of his legacy.

 

THE AUTHORS

Writer Susan Ferriss, a reporter with the San Francisco Examiner, has won awards from the Associated Press and other organizations for her coverage of immigration issues, business fraud, toxic waste hazards, and the agribusiness ties between Mexico and California. She has also reported extensively from Mexico and Central America. Her documentary film about migrant farmworkers, The Golden Cage, won top awards at the National Educational Film and Video Festival, the Columbus International Film Festival, and the Chicago International Film Festival.


 

Writer Ricardo Sandoval is an award-winning reporter with the San Jose Mercury News, who has written extensively on agribusiness, the savings and loan industry, and energy as well as labor, immigration, and international trade. He was born in Mexico, and his parents, Leopoldo and Ofelia, worked the lettuce and tomato fields of San Diego County. His grandfather, Manuel Palos, spent most of his life working on farms in Mexico and on the migrant trail throughout the western United States.