Yearning to Breathe Free

Yearning to Breathe Free : A Judicial History of the Cuban Relocation Project, Fort Chaffee, Arkansas 1980-1982

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Jim Spears (Attorney, Public Defender and former Judge) assembles his case, gathers overwhelming evidence, and consults a long line of witnesses to set the record straight on the Cuban Refugees at Fort Chaffee, a forgotten and misunderstood story that cast Fort Smith in the national spotlight, involved the Ku Klux Klan, almost cost William Jefferson Clinton his political career, and contributed to President Carter's defeat by Ronald Reagan.

Tom Wing, Professor of History, UAFS
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Product details

  • Paperback | 122 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 7mm | 172g
  • English
  • 1943267693
  • 9781943267699

Review quote

Yearning to Breathe reads like a novel, but this story really happened. Jim Spears' research is impeccable, and the compelling stories he tells are enriched with first person quotes. The photographs are poignant, breathing empathy into this largely forgotten chapter in our history. Stories like this should not be lost, and Judge Spears has done yeoman's work in making sure we remember a time when anxiety was high and fear of an onslaught of mostly unwelcome immigrants, was acute.

Larry Foley, Chair

University of Arkansas School of Journalism

Documentary filmmaker


A timely book based on primary sources, historical photographs, and personal accounts, including his own, legal expert Jim Spears' detailed and sensitive account of the embattled Mariel refugees kept at Fort Chaffee in the early 1980's will find a prominent place on many book shelves including my own. Don't miss reading Chapter IX, "Atticus Finch Redux!"

Billy D. Higgins, author of Navigating the C-124 Globemaster: In the Cockpit of America's First Heavylifter.
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