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Brazil: A Biography

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This book offers a rich, dramatic history of this complex country. The authors not only reconstruct the epic story of the nation but follow the shifting byways of food, art, and popular culture; the plights of minorities; and the ups and downs of economic cycles. Drawing on a range of original scholarship in history, anthropology, political science, and economics, Schwarcz This book offers a rich, dramatic history of this complex country. The authors not only reconstruct the epic story of the nation but follow the shifting byways of food, art, and popular culture; the plights of minorities; and the ups and downs of economic cycles. Drawing on a range of original scholarship in history, anthropology, political science, and economics, Schwarcz and Starling reveal a long process of unfinished social, political, and economic progress and struggle, a story in which the troubled legacy of the mixing of races and postcolonial political dysfunction persist to this day.


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This book offers a rich, dramatic history of this complex country. The authors not only reconstruct the epic story of the nation but follow the shifting byways of food, art, and popular culture; the plights of minorities; and the ups and downs of economic cycles. Drawing on a range of original scholarship in history, anthropology, political science, and economics, Schwarcz This book offers a rich, dramatic history of this complex country. The authors not only reconstruct the epic story of the nation but follow the shifting byways of food, art, and popular culture; the plights of minorities; and the ups and downs of economic cycles. Drawing on a range of original scholarship in history, anthropology, political science, and economics, Schwarcz and Starling reveal a long process of unfinished social, political, and economic progress and struggle, a story in which the troubled legacy of the mixing of races and postcolonial political dysfunction persist to this day.

30 review for Brazil: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Meike

    I just love the beautiful, vibrant and contradictory place that is Brazil! In this comprehensive "biography" of the country, the authors describe the historical and social developments that have shaped their country in the last 500 years: From colonization and the barbaric system of slavery on which Brazlian society rested during the times of the "Sugar Civilization", on to the Brazilian gold rush, the monarchy, the First Republic, to the dictatorship and finally to the current democratic system I just love the beautiful, vibrant and contradictory place that is Brazil! In this comprehensive "biography" of the country, the authors describe the historical and social developments that have shaped their country in the last 500 years: From colonization and the barbaric system of slavery on which Brazlian society rested during the times of the "Sugar Civilization", on to the Brazilian gold rush, the monarchy, the First Republic, to the dictatorship and finally to the current democratic system with all its triumphs and flaws - this is exciting academic writing, passionate and objective at the same time. I particularly enjoyed that Moritz Schwarcz and Murgel Starling made a point to show how important scientists (like Gilberto Freyre), directors, actors and singers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQtRP...), Samba, Bossa Nova and the carnival were and still are when it comes to defining the Brazilian identity and giving marginalised groups a voice - after all, the country is a true melting pot that struggles with persisting racist stereotypes. For hundreds of years, certain social groups have been fighting an uphill battle, and again and again, they have resisted and taken the streets to fight for agency and civil rights. This book describes the progress and the beauty of the country, but it certainly does not sugarcoat the inequality, injustice and corruption that still pose a threat, because in the end, "(h)istory is the only resource Brazil can rely on to lend a future to the country's past (...). The future could be bright."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Brazil: A Biography Lilia Moritz Schwarcz and Heloisa M. Starling, is an interesting one volume history of Brazil. Originally published in January 2015, it largely missed the recent historical events that have rocked Brazil - the fall of President Silva through massive street protests, the political instability that followed, and the election of right wing populist Jair Bolsonaro to the presidency. Even so, this book does an excellent job charting the social, cultural, economic and political his Brazil: A Biography Lilia Moritz Schwarcz and Heloisa M. Starling, is an interesting one volume history of Brazil. Originally published in January 2015, it largely missed the recent historical events that have rocked Brazil - the fall of President Silva through massive street protests, the political instability that followed, and the election of right wing populist Jair Bolsonaro to the presidency. Even so, this book does an excellent job charting the social, cultural, economic and political history of South America's largest country. The book begins by examining the (sparse) history of Brazil's indigenous peoples, and noting that much has been lost to history due to a lack of written records, and indifference to the plight of Brazil's indigenous community by historians and politicians - which does continue to this day. Brazil's written history largely starts with the charting and colonization of the region by Europeans, who left numerous written records. The area was claimed by Portugal as negotiated in agreements with another regional colonizer; Spain, and approved by Papal decree. However, Portugal spent many decades cementing its claims against rival powers - notably France and the Dutch Republic. However, Portugal eventually one out, and sought to build a colony reliant on the European market, and geared toward the export of raw resources. Porugal in exchange brought over European systems of governance and organization, and missionary zeal for the spread of Catholicism. Portugal's interests in the region began with the export of Brazilwood, but would eventually grow to include coffee, nuts, fruits, exotic woods and animals, and of course, sugar. This would lead to a large scale transformation of what is now Brazil, as massive plantations were erected. These plantations required a workforce to complete arduous and dangerous tasks for relatively cheap. The Portuguese used slaves. At the beginning the slave workforce was taken from local tribes of indigenous peoples, but as they died off, these were replaced by slaves brought over from Portugal's African colonies; Guinea-Bissau, Angola, and Mozambique. These African slaves brought their own local cultures and customs with them, and transformed Brazil's ethnic makeup. Even so, slaves and freed slaves had almost no rights at all, and were subject to brutal and humiliating treatment, lack of food and shelter, and racial repression for centuries. This system of Portuguese settlement lasted for centuries until the 19th century. In this time, Portugal created a system of racial hierarchy that favoured white Europeans above all else, and little of the Black, mulatto, or Indigenous populations. European's were prioritized in all aspects of state and local power. Even so, resistances did flare up. Colonies of escaped slaves sprung up in the dense Brazilian interior in order to resist systems of slavery. Federalists and Republicans began to organize for provincial/state autonomy, or greater political representation - inspired by events in the United States and France during the Revolutionary era - as well as the independence movements in neighbouring Spanish colonies. Even so, the colonial system in Brazil lasted up to 1822. Events in Europe would spell the end of Portuguese colonization in Brazil. The invasion of Portugal by Napoleon forced the House of Braganza to flee Lisbon to its colony in Brazil, where it would stay until the early 19th century, years after Napoleon had been defeated. King Joao VI of Portugal set up a government in exile in Brazil, and stayed until after the political situation in Europe has cooled. Upon his return, he left his son Dom Pedro as regent in Brazil. However, a growing nationalist movement that sought Brazilian independence used this as a pretext to declare independence - with Dom Pedro crowned as Emperor in Brazil in 1822. The Empire of Brazil would last until its dissolution in 1894 and the creation of the first Brazilian Republic. During the Empire's tenure, a national identity was created, focusing on myths of environmental purity, and a romanticism of Indigenous figures and imagery. The Brazilian Emperor's (there were two) would involve themselves in attempts to define Brazilian culture as independent of Portugal's, as well as grappling with powerful landowners, the abolitionist movement, and foreign wars against Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. This final war against Paraguay was to spell the monarchy's downfall - straddled with debt, with numerous casualties, and a war that lasted for five years, the monarchy was eventually overthrown, and a Republic announced in 1894. This First Republic sought to increase the power of the states against the traditional centralization tactics of the monarchy. Infact, it led to the creation of a cronyist state, where elections were meaningless (with only ~5% of the population eligible to vote). Power shifted between the states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais. Each state represented a particular party (Republican and Liberal respectively), and the presidency rotated between each interest group. Power was secured through cronyist deals with local governors, who in turn were given great authority inside their own localities. The people had little or no say in affairs, and slaves, blacks and the indigenous, as well as the poor and immigrants, had no say at all. This state began to prioritize the interests of coffee plantation owners, who became immensely powerful and wealthy as the international price of coffee rose. Even so, this First Republic would see the ending of slavery in Brazil in 1889, although this by no means led to an increase of rights for the black population. The First Republic by and large represented the interests of a small elite, and they did whatever it took - whether it be abolishing slavery or violently repressing revolution, to hold on to power. This state of affairs lasted until 1930 - when the First Republic was overthrown. This was due to the increasing power of Sao Paulo over its partner in Minas Gerais, as well as the discord in other provinces that had little say in political decisions at the Federal level. Discord also arose from workers, Federalists, and those looking to increase political representation by removing the extremely strict voting requirements. Political instability followed the collapse of the First Republic, and order was restored by Getulio Vargas, who instituted an authoritarian regime under the guise of democracy. At first a firm supporter of the military, and an admirer of Italian Fascism and the Nazi Party, Vargas nevertheless navigated the explosive waters of foreign diplomacy leading up to WWII, while seeing numerous reforms instituted in the style of an authoritarian state. He cozied up to the Americans and British by purchasing arms and technological equipment, while also espousing the nationalist sentiments of the likes of Franco and Mussolini. Vargas put down numerous revolts during his tenure, but also proved to be an astute politician. He always had his finger on the pulse of Brazilian society, and began to promote Brazilian culture in the form of Samba and other cultural phenomena - which became immensely popular in Brazil. He instituted reforms in the economy and sought to strengthen Brazil's industrial sector - Brazil was still largely reliant on exports of agricultural produce at the time. He would eventually go on to support the growing workers movement and in turn his political base was often from trade unions, moderate communists, and social democrats, as well as, for a time, the military. He increased the autonomy of Brazil in the international community, focusing on nationalistic economic policies, a solid political, social and cultural system, and building up the military. This last reform would be his downfall. Although he was an authoritarian figure, and was slow to reform Brazil's atrocious racial policies, he was well liked by most voters at the time. His regime was characterized by economic growth and progress, and an increasing sense of Brazilian nationalism. He also characterized fascism while supporting labour. His reign was a dictatorship through and through, and one with a distinct Brazilian flavour. He also sat over a regime that institutionalized racism and harshly put down any critics. Vargas was overthrown by his chosen successor - General Dutra, and a group of military officers. Vargas' downfall came in 1946, with a restoration of democracy - albeit for a short period of time. The legacy of Vargas' rule also included the strengthening of the military, and its desire to involve itself in politics. Dutra was an inept politician, and was soon replaced once again by Vargas in the - who was reelected by popular vote in 1950. This time Vargas was forced to participate in a strengthened democracy, and did so adeptly. As said, he courted labour and the left, and created the state owned oil company Petrobas - which meant windfall profits for Brazil. Vargas oversaw the implementation of developmentalist policies in Brazil, following a socialist developmental model of government administered economic development and sector targeting. However, this time powerful groups were poised against him. The military would not forgive Vargas for defeating their chosen candidate, and global politics was on their side. The military formed a clandestine organization that was organized and financially and politically supported by the United States. Vargas began to shift to the left, growing closer to Cuba and using a socialist model favoured by the USSR and satellites. He tried to navigate the waters between the two opposing camps, also courting the Americans, but this time global polarity was too great. Vargas would eventually commit suicide in 1954, in a final act of political theater that delayed a military coup by a few years. In 1956, a new President took power - Juscelino Kubitscheck (or JK for short). JK was one of the final democratically elected leaders in Brazil, and a fairly adept one at that. He embraced the developmentalist model, and began to modernize Brazil's infrastructure. He built thousands of kilometers of roads throughout Brazil, and oversaw the construction of Brazil's new capital - Brasilia. This was a city built as a symbol of a new Brazil - removing the age old power struggle between Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and other centres of power. These years of democracy were characterized by a growing cultural movement in Brazil, lead by massive amounts of book, film, music and integration into global cultural movements coming from Brazil, and political ideas from the socialist world. It would last until 1963, when a military coup, backed by the United States, sought to overthrow democracy in Brazil and create a dictatorship. It succeeded. The military regime was characterized by numerous changes in the highest seat of power, but also by extreme political repression and violence. Opposition candidates from any left leaning party, as well as those that spoke out against the military regime, were removed from office. Many were forced into exile. Demonstrations against the coup were put down by force. Trade unions were closed, and strikes broken up by gunfire. Journalists, artists, academics and student leaders were either silenced through censorship, or would disappear or die in mysterious circumstances. The military government set up numerous intelligence agencies to fight communism, but in reality, to stamp out political dissent and strengthen military rule. Any form of dissent was punishable by the law, and emergency measure were put in place to ensure compliance with the military. The Coup was coupled with a period of rapid economic growth - largely due to US investment and the price of oil - factors largely outside of domestic control. Brazilian businesses were largely bought up by foreign interests, and deregulation of economic controls occurred. However, the government would increase its power over culture, the media and politics. This regime was largely brutal in its execution of politics, and brokered no alternative voice. It set up a token opposition - a mere puppet party, and regularly arrested any vocal dissenters from all walks of life. This regime stayed in power - like other authoritarian regimes, due to its economic performance. However, reliance of foreign capital and oil exports made the Brazilian economy fragile, and increasingly reliant on the stability of the global market. When the OPEC crisis of 1973 hit, oil prices surged, and the Brazilian economy crumpled. The governments legitimacy was shaken, and military leaders began to become wary. The path forward was a slow democratization, accompanied by brutal repression of dissent and massive censorship. This regime would only end in 1985. 1985 saw a collapse of the dictatorship, but not necessarily a return to full democracy. The following years up to 2003 were a slow opening of the state, as the government slowly improved the independence of the legislature and judiciary, and uncoupled itself from its developmentalist control of the economy - largely mirroring economic trends globally. This was compounded by the collapse of the USSR in 1989, and the creation of a unipolar world. It also saw the rise of President Lula de Silva - who got his political chops as a dissident labour activist during the dictatorship. His and his successor - Dilma Rousseff's, ideology, however, would collapse under political reality, and he governed much as others have - utilizing favours, cronyism, and corruption. The recent mass protest against Dilma Rousseff came to the fore after leaks about government corruption in regards to Petrobas, the state owned oil company. This book was written before the fall of Rousseff's government, and the election of the current president, Jair Bolsonaro in 2018, who has strong backing from the military. This book is a wonderful overview of Brazilian history, from its earliest times, through Portuguese colonization, Brazilian monarchy, republics, and dictatorships. The book is a dizzying portrait of numerous characters not mentioned above; poets, painters, politicians, rebels, General's, soldiers and most importantly, the people of Brazil. The book is a slow progression through racial hegemony, slow reform, and modern society - characterized by increasing poverty, slowly improving social rights, and the implementation of a market economy. The history of Brazil is fascinating and moves quickly. Coups, revolutions, reforms and ideas are generated quickly, and fizzle out almost as fast. And with all this comes a distinct Brazilian culture - its music, cultural and ethnic makeup, and the ideas that percolate throughout Brazilian society all influence and alter events. Brazil is a unique country, and this one volume history is an excellent starting point to anyone looking to read up on one of the world's largest countries by land, economy, and population. Brazil has not always played a central role in global politics, but has had an interesting history not reliant fully on global forces. It's unique position, its strong sense of culture, and its large size all speak to a history that will continue to be interesting, and as recent news has shown, continue to be front page news. I can easily recommend this read to anyone interested in reading up on Brazil. It is a solid starting point.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Willy Marz Thiessam

    Lilia M. Schwarcz and Heloisa M. Starling give a portrait of Brazil in such a way that you find it readable and yet very confusing. Its not their fault, its Brazil. The country embodies such a mass of contradictions, such combinations of opposites and is so rich in diversity that to claim a simple history would be impossible. The work however is to be commended, as it gives a comprehensive birds eye view of the many struggles that made the history of Brazil. The continual struggles between regio Lilia M. Schwarcz and Heloisa M. Starling give a portrait of Brazil in such a way that you find it readable and yet very confusing. Its not their fault, its Brazil. The country embodies such a mass of contradictions, such combinations of opposites and is so rich in diversity that to claim a simple history would be impossible. The work however is to be commended, as it gives a comprehensive birds eye view of the many struggles that made the history of Brazil. The continual struggles between regions, cultures, peoples and the rich and the poor is a constant theme. The unity also comes out in all the cultural panoply of a country both new and unique as well as international and connected. The book is a must, to have attempted this mamoth task alone makes it worth reading. But to be plain about it, the writing is straightforward and easy to read. The argument is a very liberal one that seems to lament at many points that Brazil could not have been like the United States in structure and fortune. That it does not wallow in the sadness of its tragedy is a definite plus. Instead we have an optimism and a vitality to the work that mirrors the history of Brazil itself.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kirill

    A short yet thorough and engaging introduction to the history of Brazil, covering the periods from early Portuguese colonization to the modern struggles with democracy and corruption issues (both relatable from a personal perspective of growing up in Russia). The years from 2015 to 2017 are covered only in afterword to English translation of the book, so the Portuguese and English versions are ending on quite different notes and outlook for the future. Sometimes the book jumps over the large spa A short yet thorough and engaging introduction to the history of Brazil, covering the periods from early Portuguese colonization to the modern struggles with democracy and corruption issues (both relatable from a personal perspective of growing up in Russia). The years from 2015 to 2017 are covered only in afterword to English translation of the book, so the Portuguese and English versions are ending on quite different notes and outlook for the future. Sometimes the book jumps over the large spans of years, but those "jumps" are usually well justified (like the history of dictatorship in 60s-80s being filled with false propaganda and many documents from that time being destroyed). A few times the political history parts were hard to follow. Other than that, I really enjoyed the book and the style of storytelling. Highly recommend it to anyone interested in the history of Brazil as a base for trying to understand its present and its people.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth

    As with many books on subjects about which I know little and are fascinating, this one is hard to review. Did I love the book itself per se, or did I love the story it told and the joy of learning details of something about which my prior knowledge had mostly been skeletal, and skeletal stereotypes at that. After some consideration, I think I enjoyed both about equally. The discovery and colonization of Brazil was completely different from that of British North America in which I live or from Ne As with many books on subjects about which I know little and are fascinating, this one is hard to review. Did I love the book itself per se, or did I love the story it told and the joy of learning details of something about which my prior knowledge had mostly been skeletal, and skeletal stereotypes at that. After some consideration, I think I enjoyed both about equally. The discovery and colonization of Brazil was completely different from that of British North America in which I live or from New Spain. So was the governance and the economic development of colonial Brazil. The nature, and frankly the weakness, of the Portuguese state and empire as well as the lack of external threats either from Indians or from rival empires meant that colonial Brazil developed much more autonomously than did the Spanish, British and French American empires. It was also much more decentralized within itself. This meant the society and the culture was quite unique and distinct from Portugal, and also from other societies making Brazil a very unique society from the first. The explication of this fact, and the nature of Brazilian society and culture is what makes the book so engrossing. It really is written as a biography and I think that was an excellent decision by the authors. It's political maturity was also arrived at MUCH differently. During the Napolenic Wars it became the refuge of the Portuguese monarchy and the seat of the Portuguese empire globally when metropolitan Portugal was occupied by Napoleon. I never really understood this but it was a fascinating story and the son of the Portuguese monarch stayed on in Brazil to rule it as an emperor even when his father returned to Portugal. This was a sort of halfway house to independence. The independence and early democratization of Brazil is also a fascinating story. The authors do an excellent job of describing the development of the social, political and cultural life of Brazil from the mid-nineteenth to the early 20th century. The story of the manumission of the slaves in Brazil, which was partially the result of foreign pressure, and also the views of elites, helped mightily by the need to recruit soldiers to fight in the fiasco of the Paraguayan war was also fascinating. I really felt my Americanness reading that section. The story of slavery in Brazil was much much different than in the US, just as or more brutal, it was massively larger, and went on for much longer. There were also numerous successful slave revolts and runaway slaves were able to set up their own communities by fleeing deeper into the jungle, some of whom engaged in successful wars against Brazilian communities. For all this, manumission itself was a gradual, legal process rather than a military one in as in the United States. Racial inequality is just as much, if not more, of an issue in Brazil than in the US, but reading in detail about how another American country dealt with the issue was an education. At the early 20th century the focus becomes increasingly centered on the political life of the country and the personalities which dominated it and this is the case straight through to the launch of the dictatorship in 1964. While I do feel as though during this period more attention was paid to the wider life and development of Brazil, the political figures and intrigue made an extremely fascinating study, which I enjoyed greatly. I would say it was an outstanding story that did not end particularly well. The authors, both left-leaning academics, wrote an afterword in which they decried the popular protests against the leftist government of Dilma and the use of the courts against the corruption of the leftists in the government as authoritarian when they had been praising the protests and prosecutions by the left against the right as a sign of democracy and freedom in their final chapter. This, and the narrative structure of the whole of the period of the 1964-1985 dictatorship focusing almost exclusively on the resistance of the leftists elites which I could not help but think left a lot out of it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    William Shelton

    This is the best overall history of Brazil that I have ever read. I highly recommend it for Portuguese language readers. I can only hope that it will soon be available in English.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brian Pate

    An exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) history of Brazil from Cabral to Collor. Originally published in Portuguese in 2015, this English version provides an in-depth look at Brazil's history up to 1995, with a conclusion summarizing FHC, Lula, and the impeachment of Dilma. Schwarcz and Starling admit that they are not writing an objective history, but are creating a biography with lessons for today (xxv). Their goal is to "describe the long road toward Brazilian citizenship" (586). To do this, An exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) history of Brazil from Cabral to Collor. Originally published in Portuguese in 2015, this English version provides an in-depth look at Brazil's history up to 1995, with a conclusion summarizing FHC, Lula, and the impeachment of Dilma. Schwarcz and Starling admit that they are not writing an objective history, but are creating a biography with lessons for today (xxv). Their goal is to "describe the long road toward Brazilian citizenship" (586). To do this, they explore how the people of Brazil gained rights as the country developed. The authors explore the development of Brazil through the export of sugar (ch. 2) and gold (ch. 4) and scourge of slavery (ch. 3). They tell the fascinating story of how Dom João VI of Portugal moved his entire court to Brazil in 1808 (chs. 6-7) and the reigns of Dom Pedro I (chs. 8-9) and Dom Pedro II (chs. 10-12). Things really got interesting with the corruption of the First Republic (ch. 13) and the Vargas dictatorship (ch. 14). The Second Republic covered the presidencies of Dutra, Vargas, Kubitschek, and Quadros (chs. 15-16). The book concludes with Goulart and the military dictatorship (ch. 17), a detailed look at how the dictatorship fell, followed by the presidencies of Sarney and Collor (ch. 18). Some chapters were more interesting than others. I'm glad I persevered through this 600-page tome, but it was not always a fun read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Brazil is one of the largest countries in the world, it is rich with natural resources and a growing population. But it also troubled, staying on the brink of development, with large segments of the population living in poverty and illiteracy. Why I started this book: Brazil is a fascinating, beautiful and troubled country. Why I finished it: Brazilians joke that they have "Order and Progress" on their flag because it's the only place in the country that you can find it. Brazil is a country of ex Brazil is one of the largest countries in the world, it is rich with natural resources and a growing population. But it also troubled, staying on the brink of development, with large segments of the population living in poverty and illiteracy. Why I started this book: Brazil is a fascinating, beautiful and troubled country. Why I finished it: Brazilians joke that they have "Order and Progress" on their flag because it's the only place in the country that you can find it. Brazil is a country of extremes, wealth and poverty, natural beauty and trash filled cities, brutal police and violent gangs, and so much more. This was a great history of the country that has held out the promise of paradise and lived in and with the violence of hell for more than 5 centuries since the Europeans first arrived.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erik Champenois

    An overview of Brazilian history since the Portuguese arrived through the 1990s, with briefer, impressionistic coverage of Brazil since then. Covers the internal political development of Brazil, Brazil's relationship vis-a-vis Portugal, and the development of a national Brazilian identity, along with some of the country's cultural and literary achievements. In this review I mention a few of the things I learned that I found most interesting/noteworthy. First, while certainly not a thorough treatm An overview of Brazilian history since the Portuguese arrived through the 1990s, with briefer, impressionistic coverage of Brazil since then. Covers the internal political development of Brazil, Brazil's relationship vis-a-vis Portugal, and the development of a national Brazilian identity, along with some of the country's cultural and literary achievements. In this review I mention a few of the things I learned that I found most interesting/noteworthy. First, while certainly not a thorough treatment of ethnicity in Brazil, the authors do provide a solid introduction to the diversity of the Brazilian experience - Black, indigenous, Portuguese, mestizo, and immigrant. Brazil has historically experienced stark inequalities, still very much in evidence today with continued socio-economic inequality, police discrimination against people of color, the taking of land from indigenous peoples, the election of Bolsonaro, etc. In these ways the historical experience of Brazil certainly has parallels to that of the United States, except that Brazil's is more diverse. Brazil also did not fully end slavery until 1888, a full two and a half decades after it ended in the U.S. While Brazil has made much progress and generally embraces diversity as part of its culture, significant challenges remain. I found the treatment of the quilombos particularly interesting. These were settlements of escaped slaves who often maintained commercial connections with nearby settlements, and who raided and defended themselves when necessary from the Portuguese. The most fascinating part of the history of the quilombos was when, in the 1600s, former slaves originally from Angola and the Congo established "Little Angola," eventually known as Palmares, which existed for nearly a century as a political confederation with its own government and military, encouraging slaves to revolt, trading with neighboring towns and villages, and repelling Portuguese military expeditions. Unfortunately Palmares was eventually defeated by the Portuguese, but it remained important to the slaves of Brazil as a symbol of successful resistance. Second, the book shines particularly in its coverage of Brazilian history vis-a-vis Portuguese history during the 1800s. This is one of the most fascinating parts of the book and one I was previously unfamiliar with: when in 1807, during the Napoleonic wars, the Portuguese monarchy and court under King Dom João VI moves full scale from Lisbon to Rio de Janiero (then the capital of Brazil). Dom João continues to rule the Portuguese Empire from Brazil, even hesitating to go back to Portugal when the Napoleonic wars end. He eventually returns when forced to do so by a liberal revolution in Portugal, and as the liberal Portuguese authorities seek to revoke Brazil's autonomy, João's son Pedro I (who remains in Brazil) declares Brazil's independence from Portugal in 1822. Brazil continues a monarchy under Pedro I's rule and line until becoming republican in 1889. The third aspect of the book that I found noteworthy was the coverage of the different forms of government under Brazil. Brazil started out as a colony under the Portuguese Empire, then became an independent empire and monarchy though still under the rule of the Portuguese line, eventually becoming a republic, then a dictatorship, then briefly a more democratic republic, then a dictatorship, and now a democracy again. It's interesting to note that Brazil was the only monarchy in South America, and therefore often considered suspect by South American republics. Apparently there is still a small percentage (~10%) of the population today who would like a return to monarchy, with one of Dom Pedro's descendants campaigning today for this. More pertinent, the author's afterword - which reflects on the Petrobras scandal and the obstacles facing democracy in Brazil today - has taken on even more relevance since the election of the populist/right-wing Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro's reactionary stance against cultural and political pluralism, his policies against indigenous peoples, and his utter failure vis-a-vis the coronavirus (much worse than Trump) are certainly taking Brazil down a darker path. Whether Brazil's democratic institutions will withstand its challenges and Brazil pursue a better path post-Bolsonaro remains to be seen. One last note - on a topic that endlessly fascinates me. Latin America today is the historical product of white people moving to the area, subduing native people, and importing black people - only to result in the formation of national identities eventually becoming embraced by a majority of people within their territories. Yet that national identity remains less embraced (or not embraced at all) by a minority of the population - by indigenous peoples who remain apart from the rest of the country, to one extent or another, often little integrated with the rest of society and even in some cases remaining isolated from outside world contact. This situation exists in Brazil as it does in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America. It's a part of Brazil's diversity that I wish this book had explored just a little more. It strikes me that this situation has a parallel to the African experience - of states being built upon colonialism with little historical relevance to the former territorial makeups of Africans - and often resulting in a lack of state consolidation or even in state failure. Perhaps Latin America's more successful state formation is due to the longer period of time since colonialism, and Africa will eventually become just as successful. Or perhaps it is due to a much longer colonial period consolidating control over demarcated territories. Quite probably it is at least partly due to other external historical factors. In any case, I expect that more comparative analysis of the Latin American and African experiences will provide useful insights to the continued consolidation of democratic pluralist states in both regions.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    An ambitious project and you will learn something, but it's more useful the less you know about Brazil. This is more a collection of popular narratives pertaining to Brazil's successive leadership than anything else. The instances where the authors venture beyond the endless palace walls to discuss the Brazil outside of the endless politicking for power are the most interesting pieces of the story. There is scant analysis and explanation of underlying causes beyond what is obvious or deemed relev An ambitious project and you will learn something, but it's more useful the less you know about Brazil. This is more a collection of popular narratives pertaining to Brazil's successive leadership than anything else. The instances where the authors venture beyond the endless palace walls to discuss the Brazil outside of the endless politicking for power are the most interesting pieces of the story. There is scant analysis and explanation of underlying causes beyond what is obvious or deemed relevant by the authors which can leave the reader unsatisfied. Furthermore, there is an assumption of consensus thinking throughout the book, which also undermines the objectivity and credibility of some controversial points in history.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    I gave it 100-odd pages, but this book lacks logical form. There are no transitions, no markers indicating the constant shifts between 60 year periods, rambling descriptions that rehash the same details in almost stream of consciousness. I'd have more patience if this were literary, but just because you call it "a biography" doesn't justify incoherence. I want to blame this on the translation, but when the book lacks any internal structure, the authors must share some of the blame, at least. A s I gave it 100-odd pages, but this book lacks logical form. There are no transitions, no markers indicating the constant shifts between 60 year periods, rambling descriptions that rehash the same details in almost stream of consciousness. I'd have more patience if this were literary, but just because you call it "a biography" doesn't justify incoherence. I want to blame this on the translation, but when the book lacks any internal structure, the authors must share some of the blame, at least. A shame, because I stuck it out for a while out sheer interest in Brazil and its history. If anyone has a line on a book that can actually focus a narrative, lmk.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Isadora Moraes

    4.75

  13. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Six hundred, six hundred glorious pages of fascinating history of Brazil, probably my favourite country in the world. Schwarcz and Starling have detailed the history of Brazil, up to the more recent governments following the military dictatorship. As soon as I saw this I wanted to read it, and I took some time to go through it, savouring as much as I could. Even after 600 pages I did not want it to end, and it’s not often you can say that about a non-fiction book. The chronological progress throu Six hundred, six hundred glorious pages of fascinating history of Brazil, probably my favourite country in the world. Schwarcz and Starling have detailed the history of Brazil, up to the more recent governments following the military dictatorship. As soon as I saw this I wanted to read it, and I took some time to go through it, savouring as much as I could. Even after 600 pages I did not want it to end, and it’s not often you can say that about a non-fiction book. The chronological progress through the book, gives context to the formation of the country and early exploration by the Portuguese, the invasions from other European powers, and the settlement of this diverse land. From settlement came Sugar cultivation, then coffee, enabling the explosion of the slave trade, which Brazil was the last country to abolish in 1888. By that time, an estimated 4.9 million slaves had been brought to Brazil from Africa. The owners were brutal with them, and the fear that they were outnumbered drove them to even more brutality to maintain control. The book builds up a story, with writings, and pictures from the time from various people, with about a hundred pages of footnotes from the main thread. At first it seems that a large portion of the book is taken up with the slave industry and how it powered the Sugar and later coffee production that drove Brazil onwards, but you start to realise the impact that slavery has had on the country, how the dividing lines solidified between the mixture of races. On the other hand, it is undeniable that the same mixture of races, unequalled in any other country, generated a society that was defined by mixed marriages, rhythms, arts, sports, aromas, cuisine and literary expression. It could be said that the ‘Brazilian soul’ is multicoloured. The variety of Brazilian faces, features, ways of thinking and seeing the country are evidence of how deeply rooted the mixture of races is, and of how it has produced new cultures born from it’s hybrid nature and variety of experiences. Cultural diversity is perhaps one of the most important aspects of the country, deeply marked and conditioned by ‘separation’ but also by ‘mixture’ resulting from the long proces of mesticagem. The Portuguese crown arrived, after a long time dithering and procrastinating in the face of Napoleon’s threats and England’s overtures, and for a while Brazil became the principal seat and Nation of the Portuguese empire, a position it’s ‘nobility’ did not want to lose. When Independence was declared Brazil took some solid, and some faltering steps towards nationhood, in no small part thanks to Getulio Vargas in his two stints as President. Once it had been created and built up, the armed forces were always lurking in the background and came to the fore to take control of Brazil for a dictatorship that became more savage the longer it lasted but which would eventually cede to a civilian government. Brazil is a tremendous book, it details in an easy to read yet still compelling and fascinating way the history context of the country, without sensationalising or preaching, merely by telling the story you begin to understand the shape of the society and the politics. Interestingly Schwarcz and Starling paint a small picture of optimism at the end of the book, which I suspect has been slightly dampened more recently. I am hoping that there is as detailed and wonderful history of this period of time in the future. (blog review here)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chris Jaffe

    This is an engrossing and informative overview of Brazil over the last 500 years to (around) the present. Frankly, if I knew more about the subject, I might knock it down to four stars. But since I didn't know as much, I got more out of it. If you don't know much about Brazil (as I didn't), this is a really nice place to start as it does go through its colonial period and development, the rise of slavery, it's awkward path to eventual independence, the years of emperors, the transition to a repub This is an engrossing and informative overview of Brazil over the last 500 years to (around) the present. Frankly, if I knew more about the subject, I might knock it down to four stars. But since I didn't know as much, I got more out of it. If you don't know much about Brazil (as I didn't), this is a really nice place to start as it does go through its colonial period and development, the rise of slavery, it's awkward path to eventual independence, the years of emperors, the transition to a republic, Vargas's fascist-inspired government, and the back-and-forth from democratic governments to repressive ones ever since. Downsides? Well, for one there is very little about Brazil before the Portuguese. This is a problem I have with some US histories, so only fair to ding the same issue here. There's also problems at the other end of the book, as there isn't that much on the last 25 years or so, and what there is tends to be too solely focused on the government. The biggest problem the book has overall, though, is it that it'll ignore some factors that the authors aren't interested in - most notably the Great Depression. It shows up in passing for about two sentences. That is not a joke. Schwarcz and Starling (my copy lists them both as co-authors) just mentions it off-hand, while saying that European fascism is really what causes Vargas's government. (Really? Nothing in Brazil itself?) The ending is among the best and worst parts of the book. The main narrative ends in the hopeful glow of progressing Braziillian democracy. There are no overt predictions, but the tone is clearly optimistic. Reading this in 2018, when the country has just elected a Trump-ian authoritarian man with widespread support, this optimism seems wildly off-the-mark. However, there is a 15-page postscript for the English-language edition that looks at how things went wrong. The book was written in 2015, the postscript in 2017. It goes over how things have gone to hell. A key theme is economic problems. Yeah - that same thing that Schwarcz ignored in the 1930s, when Brazil also turned away from a traditional republic. I think I talked my way into dinging this down to four stars. While I got a lot out of it, that's more because I had so little knowledge heading into it rather than the book being that good. It is very good - there is a host of info here - but there are enough flaws to knock it down to four stars out of five.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Morrissey

    For many Americans, including this reader, our historical knowledge and curiosity rarely traverses south of the Rio Grande. Latin America, though geographically close, can seem a confusing hodgepodge of dictatorial regimes, unstable governments, and a legacy of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism similar and yet different from the American experience with the British. "Brazil: A Biography" is a significant antidote to this lack of understanding. The book is a fine synthesis of Brazilian history, b For many Americans, including this reader, our historical knowledge and curiosity rarely traverses south of the Rio Grande. Latin America, though geographically close, can seem a confusing hodgepodge of dictatorial regimes, unstable governments, and a legacy of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism similar and yet different from the American experience with the British. "Brazil: A Biography" is a significant antidote to this lack of understanding. The book is a fine synthesis of Brazilian history, beginning in the early stages of Portuguese exploration and conquest, moving through independence and monarchy, republicanism and dictatorship, and finally its current democratic regime (and attendant problems). The narrative can be difficult to immerse into at first, particularly with references to colonies and geographic areas foreign to North Americans. However, the book picks up significant steam with the arrival of the Portuguese royal family during the Napoleonic Wars, and the back-and-forth drama that succeeded from that event. The modern political history is similarly enthralling, particularly the career of Getulio Vargas, a sort of savior for the Brazilian state in the mid-20th Century. Today, Brazil is facing anti-democratic tremors similar to those felt around the West: President Bolsonaro has expressed authoritarian words and tendencies echoing the sordid history of the military dictatorship of past years. However, Brazil offers a fascinating perspective for North Americans to gaze upon: it shares a history of discrimination based on race and color; socio-economic inequality that leads to political instability; and a politics that blends latent monarchical tendencies with aspirational democratic norms and beliefs. If you want to understand Brazil, this is the place to start.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nelson

    Who is the brazilian people and what elements constitute this being? It is from this point that emerges a vast dialogue, technic and dynamic, between the authors and the reader, constantly instigating him about his own perceptions about the concept of a nation. The main principle to increase this point of historical analyses is simple: the history is not straight and previsible, but a tortuous caos capable of repeating itself in many ways. Brazil, a contradictory country in a contradictory world, Who is the brazilian people and what elements constitute this being? It is from this point that emerges a vast dialogue, technic and dynamic, between the authors and the reader, constantly instigating him about his own perceptions about the concept of a nation. The main principle to increase this point of historical analyses is simple: the history is not straight and previsible, but a tortuous caos capable of repeating itself in many ways. Brazil, a contradictory country in a contradictory world, is showed to us here with all the impartiality and compromise with the information that i being discursed. This charactherisct is what makes this book visceral, relentless and, sometimes, shocking. There's no excuses for anything here: slavery, a system social, economic and political, is exposed not just with all the lucrative benefits that has provided for those in power, but constantly approched in all its trails in the contemporary world; dictatorship's are not coups orchestrated by a group of men handing guns, but a orchestra played by various segments of society who, if not support it, silent itself about it. Silence, by the way, is the last thing you will find in this book. The transition of the periods in the brazilian history is dynamic and you can really understand why the country is walking in a way and not the other (the reason, trully, is almolst always because the rich ones choose it). A succession of leaders, parties, ideologies, visions on human rights and the permanence of a massive - and still present - social unequality shows that the genese shearched for Brazil in this book was constructed with blood, rebellions, authoritarism and a huge fight for those not in power to be seem as human beings.

  17. 5 out of 5

    cvardy1998

    This was one of the few books I have ever awaited the release of, and I must say that it was rather disappointing. The majority of the book is much like reading a survey or a literature review, there is very little analysis built upon by the authors, and--while I appreciate the effort that went into the research and organization of the book--I cannot say that I gained anything new. Beyond that, and far more importantly, the political values of the authors clearly shine through. A number of histo This was one of the few books I have ever awaited the release of, and I must say that it was rather disappointing. The majority of the book is much like reading a survey or a literature review, there is very little analysis built upon by the authors, and--while I appreciate the effort that went into the research and organization of the book--I cannot say that I gained anything new. Beyond that, and far more importantly, the political values of the authors clearly shine through. A number of historical events that do not fit neatly into the narrative espoused, that of a decolonialist like Schwarcz, with true historical impact, namely the War of the Emboaboas and the World Wars, are glossed over or entirely eliminated. The most grievous of these, however (with the book being published in 2015 originally), is the omission of the Lava Jato operations; which many would say have been definitive of the last twenty years of Brazilian politics. I can only assume this is due to the politics of the authors, who are seemingly infatuated with the PT, Dilma, and Lula above all--all of whom were implicated. These repeated insertions because frustrating the closer to the modern day the narrative approached, to the point where I had to drag myself through the concluding chapters. Put simply, the translation is highly readable and the book is very accessible to those not familiar with Brazilian history; the authors' politics make much of it hard to digest for those with some background knowledge. 3/5, a decent edition to the subject, though it mostly treads old ground and omits much from the existing conversation.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sami Eerola

    Great Hobsbawmian history of Brazil. Meaning the author does not focuses on lives of great men, the life of a country elites or in great political, economic, or geographical trends as the prime movers of history, but the ordinary people. But of course the Brazilian elite and its leaders are addressed here. The book shows that the changing politics of the former colonial nation where made by the sacrifice of thousands of popular revolts and social movements. And slowly by incremental changes and s Great Hobsbawmian history of Brazil. Meaning the author does not focuses on lives of great men, the life of a country elites or in great political, economic, or geographical trends as the prime movers of history, but the ordinary people. But of course the Brazilian elite and its leaders are addressed here. The book shows that the changing politics of the former colonial nation where made by the sacrifice of thousands of popular revolts and social movements. And slowly by incremental changes and setbacks Brazil turned to a liberal democratic nation. The only sad part in this book is that it ends in optimistic tones in the year 2016. After that year the Brazilian far-right started to gain momentum. And now Brazil is in a bring of chaos and military dictatorship. I hope that Bolsonaro is just a small bump in the trajectory of Brazil to a prosperous and egalitarian nation.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ietrio

    This is spectacular junk! Paragraph one of chapter two: > It is hard to understand how this land – located somewhere between heaven and hell – was to gradually become a major centre for sugar production, selling ‘sweetness’ produced by labour derived from the ‘infamous trade in human souls’. It is time to revisit this story, for no chain of events is simply natural – nor a mere gift from the gods. Our propensity to like places, products and sensations is learned, and sometimes these tastes were c This is spectacular junk! Paragraph one of chapter two: > It is hard to understand how this land – located somewhere between heaven and hell – was to gradually become a major centre for sugar production, selling ‘sweetness’ produced by labour derived from the ‘infamous trade in human souls’. It is time to revisit this story, for no chain of events is simply natural – nor a mere gift from the gods. Our propensity to like places, products and sensations is learned, and sometimes these tastes were created or invented at some specific date in history; we identify them and they become familiar. Europeans created companies and colonial societies in the Caribbean and in Brazil; they also created sugar. Humans make food out of almost anything, but their choice and preparation of it varies considerably according to region, social class, generation and gender. Sugar was not only a product, but also a producer of codes and customs. And in the sixteenth century the invention of a desire for sweets was widely cultivated. It is true that fruits and honey had been used as sweeteners long before this, but the new taste for sweets, its transformation into a universal need, occurred at a very specific time in the history of the Western world. It was only after 1650 that sugar, mainly cane sugar – previously the rarest of luxuries – became commonplace, a basic need. Given that theologians put the haven up in the sky and hell below the surface, yea, any country and territory is there. And the whole book is about putting romantic crap that has no other use than to inflate the book to the size required by the editor. I also dislike the euphemisms. No, there was no trade in souls. This is not only inaccurate, it is downright stupid statement, as Freud would have traded human soul, his own, for temporary might. No, Europeans did not create sugar. 1. Simply the statements above this, on the same page, tell it was not the Europeans that did any thing beyond coordination of effort. It was the brown skinned people that worked the fields and the mills. 2. Even if we would take the incorrect statement of a racist writer and say that the Europeans did the work, they would have been simply producers, nothing was created, only transformed. 3. Worse, Europeans have found sugar and its technological processes, along with the means of production (slavery) from non-Europeans. So even in this sense, the Europeans created nothing. They only perpetuated a century old practice. No, humans do not make food out of almost anything. That is the cockroach. And compared with most animals humans are very picky. Some would not eat pork. Some would not eat dog. Feces, cannibalism, blood, the list of taboos is interminable. To make things worse for the mindless authors, quite a few learned humans, would not qualify sugar, as with salt, as food. Quoting Wikipedia: > Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. And the feces become denser: no, sugar can't produce anything like customs. Sugars can lead to diabetes and rotten teeth and that is about it. And the whole rest of the book has about the same density of stupidity.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    2.5 stars, but rounding up to 3 because I respect the sheer amount of work that must've went into writing this. I went into this not knowing much beyond a real surface history of Brazil, so this definitely filled in a lot of gaps. However, I really struggled to finish (almost gave up several times) because it is really repetitive and I think the translation was perhaps not the best (I was about ready to chuck the book after reading "above all else" for the 200th time!). This would've been much b 2.5 stars, but rounding up to 3 because I respect the sheer amount of work that must've went into writing this. I went into this not knowing much beyond a real surface history of Brazil, so this definitely filled in a lot of gaps. However, I really struggled to finish (almost gave up several times) because it is really repetitive and I think the translation was perhaps not the best (I was about ready to chuck the book after reading "above all else" for the 200th time!). This would've been much better with heavier editing and perhaps smoothing out the translation a bit. I don't know if I can wholeheartedly recommend this, but I think it provides a launching point for delving more into specific eras/topics in Brazilian history.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Very comprehensive book about much of the political history of Brazil for anyone who might consider or have reason to do business or travel in Brazil . Very little cultural information that could have made this very very long 800 page book more enjoyable. There is also much perhaps left out of Brazil’s history by the authors - and given what is written in this book - I can understand why the authors avoid any risky discussion. Wow what a troubled history that seems to continue. Coups , dictators Very comprehensive book about much of the political history of Brazil for anyone who might consider or have reason to do business or travel in Brazil . Very little cultural information that could have made this very very long 800 page book more enjoyable. There is also much perhaps left out of Brazil’s history by the authors - and given what is written in this book - I can understand why the authors avoid any risky discussion. Wow what a troubled history that seems to continue. Coups , dictatorships, protests, strikes, slavery, large disparity between have and have not, unparalleled inflation, socialism and multiples of failed attempts at democracies, corruption.

  22. 4 out of 5

    David Sogge

    What a disappointment. This bloated book is loaded with facts but lacks any guiding concept or theme; its history is therefore merely a chronicle of one-damn-thing-after-another. Lots of facts are simply irrelevant, such as in parades of names that pop up once, without explanations, never to reappear. What's the point of listing the names of engineers working on Rio de Janeiro’s infrastructure around 1900? And some facts are simply wrong, such as a reference to “the early fifteenth century” when What a disappointment. This bloated book is loaded with facts but lacks any guiding concept or theme; its history is therefore merely a chronicle of one-damn-thing-after-another. Lots of facts are simply irrelevant, such as in parades of names that pop up once, without explanations, never to reappear. What's the point of listing the names of engineers working on Rio de Janeiro’s infrastructure around 1900? And some facts are simply wrong, such as a reference to “the early fifteenth century” when the period at issue is the early 1500’s. The authors often show poor control over the material, sometimes with bizarre results. For example, we begin reading a paragraph on public health and epidemics only to find ourselves led into an extended and utterly beside-the-point discussion of crackpot notions of race, whereupon the text swings back to discussing epidemics. Issues and even phrases are repeated throughout. A good editor could have reduced the book's (massive) size largely by eliminating these repetitions, and many pointless facts and factoids. Beyond the poor writing, the translation from the Portuguese is often literal, and therefore clunky. Surely there are better histories of this fabulous country? [ See also the convincing remarks by Marc, JQAdams and Dave here on Goodreads. ]

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tfalcone

    Thank you NetGalley for the free ARC. This book makes me realize what I learned in school was very - shall we say one-sided. All these great explorers we celebrated, maybe we should call them invaders? From Brazil's beginnings - the invasion and division between Portugal and Spain - to it's hay-day as a sugarcane slavery colony, then the gold rush,the break from Portugal as an independent empire under Pedro II who ruled for almost 70 years and then slowly the emergence of the modern day Federal Thank you NetGalley for the free ARC. This book makes me realize what I learned in school was very - shall we say one-sided. All these great explorers we celebrated, maybe we should call them invaders? From Brazil's beginnings - the invasion and division between Portugal and Spain - to it's hay-day as a sugarcane slavery colony, then the gold rush,the break from Portugal as an independent empire under Pedro II who ruled for almost 70 years and then slowly the emergence of the modern day Federal Republic Brazil. Brazil is amazingly diverse due to all these waves of different people coming into its borders. This book had a wealth of information of the history of this huge and intriguing country.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Etel Sverdlov

    A hefty book and one that took me a long time, I find this book to be a really enjoyable and interesting read. I felt like towards the end of the book it zoomed in a lot on politics and focused less on culture, whereas before the balance felt better but overall I'd recommend to anyone with an interest in learning about Brazil's history in detail. A hefty book and one that took me a long time, I find this book to be a really enjoyable and interesting read. I felt like towards the end of the book it zoomed in a lot on politics and focused less on culture, whereas before the balance felt better but overall I'd recommend to anyone with an interest in learning about Brazil's history in detail.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Kouache

    This is most likely the best history of Brasil you are going to find in English. Everything concerning the political evolution of the country is treated in great details. The amount of meticulously researched informations can be overwhelming to the non-initiated but this makes this book a great reference on the subject. Ideal read before a trip to this multifaceted land.

  26. 5 out of 5

    UChicagoLaw

    I am helping lead a new Law School initiative in Brazil, and I read this book before a recent trip there to meet potential partners. If you have an interest in this fascinating and important nation, this new history is the place to start. —M. Todd Henderson, Michael J. Marks Professor of Law

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Great overview of the history of Brazil.

  28. 5 out of 5

    William

    I keep trying to develop an interest in South American history but it might just be a lost cause.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cole

    wheel of tbr, june 2020: boyfriend pick

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel Perlin

    One of the best books I have read in recent times! Such a pleasure to read and so educational!

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