The Power of Story, the Evidence of Experience
Book Review

Wald, Sarah D.

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/09/2018
Year Published:  2018  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23411

Review of a book of oral histories of migrant farmworkers.



Chasing the Harvest:
Migrant Workers in California Agriculture
By Gabriel Thompson
Verso, 2017, 320 pages, $24.95 paperback.

I was awed by the rich texture of the oral histories the volume contains. They are presented as first person narratives rather than interviews, and in alignment with other volumes in the fabulous Voice of Witness (, the series to which this book belongs, they provide the narrators' life histories from birth through the present.

Each captures a unique authorial voice, and I could not put the volume down. The cadence of each oral history and the attention to details in the narrators' lives were captivating. They testified to the resilience and dignity of the workers, but also to the complexity of human experience and human subjectivity. We hear in these oral histories the workers' own interpretations and evaluations of their life trajectories.

Farmworkers are currently among the most marginalized and exploited workers in U.S. society. Nearly one-third of the nation's farmworkers labor in California alone. Almost half are undocumented. Farmworkers' median income is $14,000.

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