The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002

Book Reviews

crew that carved concrete steps deep into Carlsbad Caverns as well as Benito
Montoya, Rupert Lopez, and their co-workers who constructed in Santa Fe the
"largest adobe office building in the United States" (pp. 71-73). The historian
also reminds us that CCC companies provided emergency aid. In New Mexico
this included assisting flood victims along the Rio Grande and Pecos River and
fighting fires in Cibola National Forest. Melzer also notes less noble deeds, such
as Deming camp members who joined local ranchers to preserve their vegeta-
tion by killing hundreds of rabbits.
Melzer's generally positive presentation correctly notes varied personal experi-
ences within camps that averaged thirty-two in number between 1933 and 1942.
Young men established their own camp newspapers, small businesses, and athlet-
ic competitions in addition to gaining more formal education and learning new
skills. He admits in the penultimate chapter title, however, that life was "Hardly
Utopia." Typically, young men complained about their superiors, the food, and
boredom; some went AWOL. Conflicts developed between New Mexicans and
recruits from Texas, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. Melzer also notes that
"Hispanics" experienced discrimination in and outside of camps, but faced com-
paratively fewer problems than African Americans in the South. Disappointingly,
he only makes brief reference to Native American participation in the CCC.
The title Coming of Age in the Great Depression and the preface suggests Melzer's
focus on how the CCC played a "crucial role in helping to facilitate the transi-
tion to adulthood" (p. ix) for thousands of New Mexicans. The author's prefer-
ence for a broad survey, however, limits his ability to provide depth or extensive
analysis to the CCC impact on individual lives and thereby reinforce an indis-
putable thesis. The book's thematic organization also curtails his capactiy to
describe the evolution of more than one hundred specific camps established
across the state.
Still, this thoroughly researched work provides valuable reference to the
impact of a federal program on state, local, and individual levels. Popular audi-
ences will enjoy Melzer's inclusion, even if unnecessarily quoted in places, of
numerous oral history accounts. CCC alumni will recall with pride their success-
es and struggles while serving their country. Scholars will appreciate the detailed
appendices and numerous primary sources cited in the endnotes and bibliogra-
phy. All readers will enjoy the thirty-seven illustrations.
Western Mzchigan Unzversity ROBERT W. GALLERJR.
The Crusade for Justice: Chicano Militancy and the Government's War on Dissent. By
Ernesto B. Vigil. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999. Pp. xii+487.
Preface, notes, index. ISBN o-299-16224-9. $24.95, paper.)
In Denver, Colorado, during the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 1970s,
the Crusade for Justice (CFJ) was the most powerful grassroots organization that
sought to make social, educational, and political changes in the lives of
Hispanics living in the barrios. The author, a left-wing radical and a close ally of
Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales, founder of the CFJ, actively participated in almost all

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/. Accessed September 18, 2014.