University of Oklahoma Press, 2019. Available on August 22, 2019.
For twenty years after World War II, the United States was in the grips of its second and most oppressive red scare. The hysteria was driven by conflating American Communists with the real Soviet threat. The anticommunist movement was named after Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, but its true dominant personality was FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who promoted and implemented its repressive policies and laws. The national fear over communism generated such anxiety that Communist Party members and many left-wing Americans lost the laws’ protections. Thousands lost their jobs, careers, and reputations in the hysteria, though they had committed no crime and were not disloyal to the United States. Among those individuals who experienced more of anticommunism’s varied repressive measures than anyone else was Clinton Jencks.
Jencks, a decorated war hero, adopted as his own the Mexican American fight for equal rights in New Mexico’s mining industry. In 1950 he led a local of the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers in the famed Empire Zinc strike—memorialized in the blacklisted 1954 film Salt of the Earth—in which wives and mothers replaced strikers on the picket line after an injunction barred the miners themselves. But three years after the strike, Jencks was arrested and charged with falsely denying that he was a Communist and was sentenced to five years in prison. In Jencks v. United States (1957), the Supreme Court overturned his conviction in a landmark decision that mandated providing to an accused person previously hidden witness statements, thereby making cross-examination truly effective.
In McCarthyism vs. Clinton Jencks, Caballero reveals for the first time that the FBI and the prosecution knew all along that Clinton Jencks was innocent. Jencks’s case typified the era, exposing the injustice that many suffered at the hands of McCarthyism. The tale of Jencks’s quest for justice provides a fresh glimpse into the McCarthy era’s oppression, which irrevocably damaged the lives, careers, and reputations of thousands of Americans.
Raymond Caballero, author of Orozco: The Life and Death of a Mexican Revolutionary, lives in Portland, Oregon.
Michael E. Tigar, a human rights lawyer and writer, is Emeritus Professor at Duke University School of Law and American University’s Washington College of Law. He has authored or coauthored fourteen books, including Mythologies of State and Monopoly Power.
University of Oklahoma Press, 2017.
On August 31, 1915, a Texas posse lynched five “horse thieves.” One of them, it turned out, was General Pascual Orozco Jr., military hero of the Mexican Revolution. Was he a desperado or a hero? Orozco’s death proved as controversial as his storied life, a career of mysterious contradictions that Raymond Caballero puzzles out in this book.
A long-overdue biography of a significant but little-known and less understood figure of Mexican history, Orozco tells the full story of this revolutionary’s meteoric rise and ignominious descent, including the purposely obscured circumstances of his death at the hands of a lone, murderous lawman. That story—of an unknown muleteer of Northwest Chihuahua who became the revolution’s most important military leader, a national hero and idol, only to turn on his former revolutionary ally Francisco Madero—is one of the most compelling narratives of early-twentieth-century Mexican history. Without Orozco’s leadership, Madero would likely have never deposed dictator Porfirio Díaz. And yet Orozco soon joined Madero’s hated assassin, the new dictator, Victoriano Huerta, and espoused progressive reforms while fighting on behalf of reactionaries.
Whereas other historians have struggled to make sense of this contradictory record, Caballero brings to light Orozco’s bizarre appointment of an unknown con man to administer his rebellion, a man whose background and character, once revealed, explain many of Orozco’s previously baffling actions. The book also delves into the peculiar history of Orozco’s homeland, offering new insight into why Northwest Chihuahua, of all places in Mexico, produced the revolution’s military leadership, in particular a champion like Pascual Orozco. From the circumstances of his ascent, to revelations about his treachery, to the true details of his death, Orozco at last emerges, through Caballero’s account, in all his complexity and significance.
"Raymond Caballero lleva al lector en un viaje salvaje y excitante, desde el derrocamiento de Porfirio Díaz a su revuelta contra Francisco Madero, hasta el arresto en su casa de El Paso y su trágica muerte en manos de la policía de Texas en las montañas Van Horn. Esta biografía de Orozco investigada meticulosamente, nos da un enorme entendimiento sobre ese tiempo crucial en la historia de mexicana y americana." Jerry D. Thompson, autor de Cortina: Defending the mexican name in Texas.
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