Brazil: A Biography
Heloisa M. Starling, Lilia Moritz Schwarcz
Shortlisted for the Jabuti Prize for the Best Brazilian Book Published Abroad
‘Engrossing … eye-opening … an enormously refreshing treat’ Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
Since Europeans first reached Brazil in 1500 it has been an unfailing source of extraordinary fascination. More than any other part of the ‘New World’ it displayed both the greatest beauty and grandeur and witnessed scenes of the most terrible European ferocity. Its native people both revolutionized Europe’s ideas of itself and were then subject to extermination. For white settlers Brazil’s opportunities seemed endless, for imported black slaves it was a hell on earth.
Brazil: A Biography, written by two of Brazil’s leading historians and a bestseller in Brazil itself, is a remarkable attempt to convey the overwhelming diversity and challenges of this huge country – larger than the contiguous USA and still in some regions not fully mapped – from its origins to the twenty-first century. The book’s major themes are the near-continuous battles to create both political institutions and social frameworks that would allow stable growth, legal norms and protection for all its citizens. Brazil’s failure to achieve these except in the very short term has been tragic, but even in the 21st century it remains one of the world’s great experiments – creative, harsh, unique and as compelling a story for its inhabitants as for outsiders.
Engrossing ... eye-opening ... an enormously refreshing treat -- Dominic Sandbrook * Sunday Times * With great skill the authors have managed to combine clarity and consistency, substance and fluency, historical precision and a text that is a joy to read * Lira Neto * A thoughtful and profound journey into the soul of Brazil...The Brazil that emerges from this book is, indeed, a fascinating, complex, multicoloured, contradictory and challenging organism, more like a living being than a political, cultural and geographical entity -- Laurentino Gomes * Folha de Sao Paulo * Coinciding with the election of the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, this epic history of the world's sixth most populous country is a shocking, dramatic and utterly engrossing read. The details of Brazil's history, from the 19th-century empire to the suicide of the quasi-fascist dictator Getulio Vargas, are largely unknown to British readers, but that only makes its dark story all the more fascinating. * The Sunday Times, Books of the Year * Detailed and deeply reasoned . . . Illuminating, engrossing, and consistently thoughtful. -- Larry Rohter * The New York Review of Books * Compelling and insightful . . . One of Schwarcz and Starling's great strengths is their dissection of changing racial identity. -- Geoff Dyer * Financial Times * Evocative . . . Schwarcz and Starling adopt what they call a biographical approach: an attempt to tell the collective stories of the generations of Brazilians that have lived . . . They achieve this with flair in their rich evocations of colonial and imperial Brazil . . . Rich and absorbing. -- Patrick Wilcken * The Times Literary Supplement *
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