Forged Under the Sun/Forjada Bajo El Sol: The Life of Maria Elena Lucas

Fran Leeper Buss, Editor, Fran Leeper Buss, Introduction by, Maria Elena Lucas, Author University of Michigan Press $17.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-472-06432-8
Lucas, a Chicana farm worker, organizer and poet, has lived a dramatic and arduous life, as exemplified in the song she wrote that provides the book's title. Oral historian Buss ( Dignity: Lower Income Women Tell of Their Lives and Struggles ) has sensitively integrated Lucas's diaries with her spoken memories, and included an introduction that provides context about life in the Rio Grande River Valley on the Texas-Mexico border, where Lucas has spent much of her life. Lucas recalls her early ignorance of any existence beyond poverty and how, knowing nothing of sex, she married at 15, only to find her husband violent. After leaving him and moving to an Illinois farming community, she organized a store boycott and a cultural festival. In 1981, she began her formal organizing career with the United Farm Workers in Illinois. Back in Texas, in 1988 she was sprayed with pesticides from a crop-dusting plane; two years later, in fragile health but still organizing, she won a small settlement. While Lucas's story is an inspiring one of grit and hope, she is hardly starry-eyed, recognizing how sexism persists in the larger society, her community and the union. Photos not seen by PW. (July)
Reviewed on: 08/16/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Hardcover - 336 pages - 978-0-472-09432-5
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