"Chicano writers from El Paso are the most progressive, open-minded, far-reaching, and inclusive writers of them all."

Octavio Romano

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Different Side of Chicano(a) and Latino(a) Letters: Writings in Our Present Wars

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The following books are on the theme of Iraq and Afghanistan wars written by Chicano(a)s and Latina(o)s. 

They include books by veterans, journalist, consciousness objectors, and more. Also included is the book by the infamous Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez (not to be confused with the Chicano poet of the same name) who has been on the circuit of late talking of the scapegoating he and other generals, including many general of color received after the Abu Ghraibe scandal. Sanchez is from Rio Grande  City, Texas and a graduate of Texas A and M University, Kingsville.

The first one is about Camilo Mejia who was born in Managua, Nicaragua. He migrated to the United States and later entered the army serving a tour in Iraq. On returned he filed for conscientious objector status refusing to return to Iraq. When researching writers from Nicaragua, I was surprised to see Mejia mentioned as a prominent Nicaraguan writer.

Haymarket Books (March 1, 2008)
ISBN-10: 1931859531
Camilo Mejia

The inspiring story of the nationally known soldier who fought in Iraq and was brave enough to face jail rather than return to fight again.

As the American occupation of Iraq continues with no end in sight, Camilo Mejía has become a nationally recognized voice in the ever-growing peace movement. After serving in the Army for nearly nine years, he was the first-known Iraq veteran to refuse to fight, citing moral concerns about the war and occupation. 

His principled stand helped to rally the growing opposition and embolden his fellow soldiers. Despite widespread public support and an all-star legal team, Mejía was eventually convicted of desertion by a military court and sentenced to a year in prison, prompting Amnesty International to declare him a prisoner of conscience.

Since his release, the celebrated soldier-turned-pacifist has traveled around the country and the world to speak against the war. Now he tells his own story, from his upbringing in Central America and his experience as a working-class immigrant in the United States to his service in Iraq — where he witnessed prisoner abuse and was deployed in the Sunni triangle  — and time in prison. 

Far from being an accidental activist, Mejía was raised by prominent Sandinista revolutionaries and draws inspiration from Jesuit teachings. In this stirring book, he argues passionately for human rights and the end to an unjust war. 

Beacon Press; Reprint edition (July 1, 2008) 
ISBN-10: 0807072710

Aidan Delgado (Author) 

As the planes hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, Aidan Delgado was in the process of enlisting in the U.S. Army Reserve. Two years later, he arrived in Iraq with the 320th Military Police Company. 

As he witnessed firsthand the brutality of the occupation and the abuse of unarmed Iraqis, Delgado came to believe that war was immoral and ran counter to his Buddhist principles. 

He turned in his weapon and began the long process of securing conscientious objector status. His book is urgent reading for anyone who cares about American ideals overseas, and for all those who understand why peace is patriotic.

"Aidan Delgado is a powerful, eloquent writer. His description of how he was transformed by the horrors of Iraq is unforgettable. He is a diamond in the rough, sandblasted in the desert of Iraq." — Amy Goodman, host and executive producer, Democracy Now!

"A Buddhist GI inside Abu Ghraib prison, a witness to the horrors, a conscientious objector: Aidan Delgado is a keen observer and an eloquent writer, and he shocks us while also educating us about the reality of the war in Iraq." — Howard Zinn, author of You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train and A People's History of the United States

"The Sutras of Abu Ghraib is engagin and emotional, and some of its best material is born out of the author's time at the prison . . . His anecdotes about killing time in the desert are as interesting as those in which mortars rain from the sky." — Dewey Hammon, San Francisco Chronicle

"A fascinating story about the mundance struggles of modern military service, the dehumanizing effects of war, and the courage of one young man to live by his conscience." — Shambhala Sun

"Delgado's insight helps you understand the desperation of soldiers and the tragic and inevitable path leading to the photographs from Abu Ghraib. This book is sure to incite and renew demands for accountability." — former brigadier general Janis Karpinski

"The public at large and especially the many soldiers who have behaved honorably in Iraq deserve an honest answer . . . Mr. Delgado's complaints and the entire conduct of this wretched war should be thoroughly investigated." — Bob Herbert, New York Times 

Harper (May 6, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0061562424 
Ricardo S. Sanchez

Amid all of the criticisms of America's war in Iraq, one essential voice has remained silent — until now. In his groundbreaking new memoir, Wiser in Battle, Lieutenant General Ricardo S. Sanchez, former commander of coalition forces in Iraq, reports back from the front lines of the global war on terror to provide a comprehensive and chilling exploration of America's historic military and foreign policy blunder. 

With unflinching candor, Sanchez describes the chaos on the Iraqi battlefield caused by the Bush administration's misguided command of the military, as well as his own struggle to set the coalition on the path toward victory.

Sanchez illuminates the fallout of the communication breakdown between the leadership on the front and the politicians in Washington, revealing fractious discussions he had with, among others, Ambassador Paul Bremer and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Drawing on his tenure on the ground, Sanchez shows how minor insurgent attacks grew into synchronized operations that finally ignited into a major insurgency and all-out civil war. 

He provides an insider's account of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, explaining the circumstances that led to the abuses, who perpetrated them, and what the formal investigations revealed — all the while reflecting on America's objectionable use of torture and the grave need for the country's leadership to pursue an ethical course of action in the war on terror. 

Sanchez also details the cynical use of the Iraq War for political gain in Washington and shows how the pressure of an around-the-clock news cycle drove and distorted critical battle decisions, such as troop drawdowns, the fight for Fallujah, and the transfer of sovereignty. 

In addition, Sanchez shares the story of his career. He tells of the journey from his poverty-stricken youth on the Texas banks of the Rio Grande to joining the Reserve Officers' Training Corps at sixteen and later serving in Kosovo, Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and, ultimately, Iraq. 

At the time of his retirement, Sanchez was the highest-ranking Hispanic in the U.S. Army. 

The first book written by a former on-site commander in Iraq, Wiser in Battle is essential reading for all who wish to understand the current war and the American military's role in the new century. 

[Perfect Paperback]
Nadores Publishing & Research
(October 18, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0979784700
Regulo Zapata Jr. 

Publisher's Description

DESPERATE LANDS is the unprecedented story of U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers and the missions they have carried out while fighting the war on terror in the Horn of Africa and in Afghanistan. 

The book is unique and timely, in that it tells the compelling story of our nations struggle and of its soldiers fighting a new and different kind of war never fought before a Global War on Terror. 

 This true story comes at a time when our nation has divided feelings and opinions about this war a division that exists among both government leaders and the people in the US. 

These pages offer a different perspective that of lower enlisted soldiers reflecting their personal experience in combat zones in Africa and Afghanistan as they witnessed and experienced the fog of war. 

The author, Special Forces Master Sergeant Regulo Zapata, Jr., shares his extraordinary journey through ancient and desperate lands at the front lines of this ongoing war. 

Here are true stories of sacrifice, bravery, excitement, horror, anger, tedium, fear, camaraderie, and more a firsthand look behind the headlines at the reality of the exceptional and difficult challenges U.S. 

Army Special Forces soldiers face as they defend America against the terrorist threat.
About the Author

Regulo Zapata Jr. was an Army Special Operations NCO and retired as a Master Sergeant in 2003 after 28 years of service with the U.S.Army Special Forces. He now lives in Santa Clara County, California.

Potomac Books Inc.; illustrated edition edition (February 27, 2008)
ISBN-10: 1597971693
Capt. Eric Navarro USMCR (Author) 

Ten U.S. Marines are assigned to live, train, and go into battle with more than five hundred raw and undisciplined Iraqi soldiers. 

A member of this Adviser Support Team, Capt. Eric Navarro, recounts their tour in vivid and brutally honest detail.

Their deployment comes at a particularly important time in the war. The Battle of Fallujah is raging, and President Bush has proclaimed training the Iraqi forces is the key to winning the war. 

Once they stand up, we can stand down, or so the theory goes. Navarro's team, nicknamed The Drifters, faces countless roadblocks -- no interpreters initially, limited supplies, little contact with other U.S. forces, and a vast cultural gulf with the Iraqis. 

One hackneyed and fatalistic Arabic phrase seems to sum up the mission, "Insha Allah," which translates as "God willing" or "if God wills it."

Whether riding into downtown Fallujah in an unarmored Nissan pick-up truck, living in squalor in abandoned buildings, dodging trigger-happy troops, sharing FHM magazine with Iraqi soldiers to boost morale, or getting attacked by insurgent rockets less than an hour after arriving, life is never easy and more often surreal. 

The Drifters' trials and tribulations help shed light on this most under-reported aspect of the war: What is wrong with the new Iraqi Army? The answer is not as pretty as the politicians would like.

About the Author
Capt. Eric Navarro was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1975, and received a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts with a specialty in writing at The New School University. He was living in Manhattan during the events of September 11th and set out to join the Marines the next day. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Dorothy, and remains in the reserves. Following his most recent tour in Iraq, Navarro will attend the NYU Stern Business School.

Fulcrum Publishing (April 15, 2008)
ISBN-10: 1555916767
Heraldo Munoz (Author)

Publisher's Description

Beginning with a telling phone call from Condi, the former president of the UN Security Council tells for the first time the behind-the-scenes story of the Iraq war, as seen from an international perspective. 

Ambassador Munoz examines the United States controversial decision to take a unilateral stand and the repercussions for both the U.S. and the rest of the world. 

This fascinating case study explains why a multilateral approach to foreign policy, including reliance on international organizations such as the UN, is imperative in today s world. 

A Solitary War offers a compelling argument for rebuilding trust among the international community and returning to a truly cooperative global order.

About the Author

Ambassador Heraldo Munoz was deputy foreign minister of Chile between March 2000 and January 2002 and minister secretary-general of government prior to assuming his present post as Chilean ambassador to the UN. 

In that capacity, and as the recent president of the UN Security Council, he was a direct participant in the diplomatic initiatives and negotiations on key international issues, from Iraq and Lebanon to Sudan and Haiti. 

Publisher: Beacon Press (September 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0807000574
J. Malcolm Garcia 

A memoir about six orphans, a dog, a Muslim man, and an inexperienced American journalist--thrust together in post-9/11 Afghanistan.

Shortly after September 11, J. Malcolm Garcia, a former social worker new to both journalism and war, arrived in Afghanistan. Over the next seven years, he would return to the country several times, finding there both a professional and emotional center. 

When he first arrived, Garcia met Khalid, a young Afghan he affectionately called Bro, who became his driver, interpreter, and, eventually, his friend. Bro in turn called Garcia the khaarijee -- the outsider. 

He told Garcia he wasn't responsible for his new friend's life, but at least two times he saved it. 

He instructed Garcia to avoid dogs because they were rabid, then helped him steal a puppy from an organized dog fight. Bro told him to be wary of street children, only to assist him in feeding and educating six homeless, war-orphaned boys.

Bro was Sancho Panzo to Garcia's Don Quixote, and together they faced Afghanistan's uncertain future. 

Gritty, gripping, and unexpectedly moving, The Khaarijee tells the story of this extraordinary intersection of paths, and shows how profoundly Afghanistan transformed Garcia. 

Issues of friendship and loss, guilt and resolution, and wanting to make a difference tap into universal themes, extending The Khaarijee beyond much travel writing and war reportage.

Deborah Rodriguez (Author), Kristin Ohlson (Author)
Random House Trade Paperbacks (December 18, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0812976738

Soon after the fall of the Taliban, in 2001, Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan as part of a group offering humanitarian aid to this war-torn nation. 

Surrounded by men and women whose skills -- as doctors, nurses, and therapists -- seemed eminently more practical than her own, Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother of two from Michigan, despaired of being of any real use. 

Yet she soon found she had a gift for befriending Afghans, and once her profession became known she was eagerly sought out by Westerners desperate for a good haircut and by Afghan women, who have a long and proud tradition of running their own beauty salons. Thus an idea was born.

With the help of corporate and international sponsors, the Kabul Beauty School welcomed its first class in 2003. 

Well meaning but sometimes brazen, Rodriguez stumbled through language barriers, overstepped cultural customs, and constantly juggled the challenges of a postwar nation even as she learned how to empower her students to become their families’ breadwinners by learning the fundamentals of coloring techniques, haircutting, and makeup.

Yet within the small haven of the beauty school, the line between teacher and student quickly blurred as these vibrant women shared with Rodriguez their stories and their hearts: the newlywed who faked her virginity on her wedding night, the twelve-year-old bride sold into marriage to pay her family’s debts, the Taliban member’s wife who pursued her training despite her husband’s constant beatings. 

Through these and other stories, Rodriguez found the strength to leave her own unhealthy marriage and allow herself to love again, Afghan style.

With warmth and humor, Rodriguez details the lushness of a seemingly desolate region and reveals the magnificence behind the burqa. 

Kabul Beauty School is a remarkable tale of an extraordinary community of women who come together and learn the arts of perms, friendship, and freedom.

From the Hardcover edition. 

About the Author

Deborah Rodriguez has been as a hairdresser since 1979, except for one brief stint when she worked as a corrections officer in her hometown of Holland, Michigan. She currently directs the Kabul Beauty School, the first modern beauty academy and training salon in Afghanistan. Rodriguez also owns the Oasis Salon and the Cabul Coffee House. She lives in Kabul with her Afghan husband.

Tomorrow: Small Press Spotlight
Monday: Lunes con Lalo

The link we share with you today is: American Book Sellers Association

Your calo juarense for today is: lambiscón - Hlagar demasiado a una persona para caer bien - to fawn over a person in order to be liked
                      -- Glosario del Calo de Cd. Juarez, Ricardo Aguilar Melantzon 

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