Blog post

The "undoctored" brilliance of Trampling Out the Vintage

Molly Osberg30 August 2012

John Womack Jr., writing in the newest installment of the Monthly Review, identified Trampling Out the Vintage as a "great piece of U.S. history," and a "brilliantly composed study" of Cesar Chaves and the United Farm Workers. Verso will publish the title in paperback this fall. 

The review details author Frank Bardacke's unique trajectory as a historian. As an activist in and around Southern California through the '60s, Bardacke organized G.I.s against the Vietnam war and founded the Bay Area Revolutionary Union. Later, it was his work for six seasons with the UFW in the fields of the Salinas Vallery that solidified his interest in further researching the union. 

"The author's critical and analytical powers are remarkable," writes Womack, "undoctored by any academic department." 

Womack commends the book both for capturing the emotional weight of individual workers' stories and tracing a complex historical account in a "dramatic narrative vivid with critical analysis of the movement's developing struggles and faults." The author, he writes, is above all "a master of historical inquiry, research, examination, exposition, and explanation."

"Like almost all academic labor historians today, Bardacke examines racial, ethnic, national, and gendered divisions at work. Unlike most academics, he also examines in wonderful deal the material divisions (geographic, chronological, industrial, and technical) to explain struggles in their specificity.  Better even than David Brody showed technically strategic positions at work in steel, Bardacke shows them in California's fruit and vegetables … The explanations are careful, coherent, and illuminating." 

Visit the Monthly Review to read the review in full.