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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have read and reread this excellent ethonography. I read Culture Shock! Brazil before coming to Brazil, then again while traveling in Brazil. Volker Poelzl has done his homework. He has given readers brilliant profile of Brazil. This is no easy task, as Brazil is as large as the continental United States and equally as diverse.

Culture Shock! will give you everything that you need for a primer education on Brazil. It will specially be valuable to those who are coming to live for a while and for along with a travel guide like Frommer's (Strongly Recommended - see my review) will open the country up to you. I especially appreciated his sections on synergistic religions: Candomble, Kardecism, Umbanda, Shamanism, Feticaria (witchcraft) etc. Excellent.

Brazil is as dynamic as its Carnivals. It is also contradictory and contrasting, as seen in its wealth and poverty. The towering new high-rise buildings, that look down on the sprawling slums point to a country with the world's 12th largest economy, yet 1/3 of the people live in abject poverty. Volker is not Pollyannaish in his writing about Brazil. He is critical of the antiquated social elitism, cronyism, corruption, police violence, gross injustice and dysfunctional socials systems that continues to foster the widespread poverty - "Brazil is a democracy. But what I see here is a wretched, sad situation where there is no justice." Yet, he also shows how the people of Brazil, in spite of poverty, have their family, friends, love, sexuality, music and dance.

NOTE: Volker Poelzl's guide should get a five star rating, BUT there is a serious flaw: the binding gives out after one use and the pages fall out. This shoddy workmanship is the responsibility of the publisher (Marshall Cavendish - Singapore). However, if you can hold it together with rubber bands, this is a valuable and 'Strongly Recommended' guide.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I am Brazilian. This book describes Brazil very well, and the author did a very good job in all the topics he included. It has a good overview of religions, history of the country, Brazilian way of living, and so on. The only thing I would improve is the Portuguese language. There are several mistakes. Here are some corrections: Carro = car (and not carriage), Wine = vinho (not vino), Easter = páscoa (and not pascua), on top of = em cima de (and not encima de); because = porque, why = por que. Boa noite = can be either good evening or good night. The numbers 16, 17, 18 and 19 in Portuguese are dezesseis, dezessete, dezoito e dezenove. The expression "ter dor de cotovelo" (to have elbow pain) is applied to the following situation: A person (A) who is very envious or jealous of the person (B) for something that A wants, but does not have, and B has. It could be anything: a girlfriend, a house, a car, etc. In this case A is said to have "dor de cotovelo" related to the person B.
Well, I hope this helped.

Dr. Virginia Pearson
Cross-Cultural facilitator
Ph.D. in Cross-Cultural Psychology and International Management
GlobalAllianceUS@aol.com
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
I recently visited Brazil with my wife who is originally from there. I am just a Gringoe, born and raised in New Jersey, USA. Throughout our stay I would constantly refer to the book to better understand the culture. I have to say that everything I had experienced was mentioned to the detail in this book. My Father-In-Law grew up there and even he was impressed. In fact, I think he even learned a thing or two about Brazil!!! I would definitely recommend this book to anyone traveling to Brazil who is not familiar. Tchau!!!
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have not finished reading this book entirely, but what I have read is very good. It is easy to read, and from what I already know about Brazil, an accurate description so far. I also like the fact that the book definitely tells about Brazil from the perspective of an outsider that is not familiar with the culture. It will prepare travelers to not be shocked, and rather, to appreciate what they experience.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
Book is well prepared to get first glance of how really the culture is and how one should behave. As i got a lot of contacts with Brazilians before going to Brazil, reading this book just confirmed the ideas i have understood from them. The book didn't surprise me but it definitely taught more details and confirmed my understanding.
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on January 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Good overview of the country. Any book of this type might be criticized for its oversimplifications, but if you have a limited time to learn about Brazil (I used before a vacation), this is a good (and very cheap) way to get the information you need. I would recommend it. I also read Brazil (by Errol Lincoln Uys) during the trip and it was a good complement of what I was seeing during the day.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
i thought this would be a little more in depth. Its a good book for someone taking a first time trip there, or someone who goes there frequently but doesnt stay long enough to learn the basics of brazilian culture through experience.
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on June 16, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book did not contain the most up to date information but it was good nonetheless. The history section was very good.
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9 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
I can't believe how pathetic this book is. Half the book is devoted to describing the geography, history, and language of Brazil - irrelevant to the actual fact of culture shock. If you want to read a real book on Brazilian history or really learn Portuguese, do so. However, this book will give you only the driest, most superficial overview of those categories of knowledge, and moreover, an ever skimpier overview of Brazilian culture. If I remember correctly there are two pages under the section "dating and sex." Having spent only six months in Brazil, I could write an entire detailed book on this subject. I think it deserves at least 10 pages, and not just superficial observations of the type "It is common for Brazilians to make out instantly as a form of flirting." Yes, this is true, BUT, this pathetic author fails to into the subject at any length. Why do they do this? What are they thinking when they do this? How do foreigners react? How do they expect foreigners to react? What happens afterwards? The complexity, depth, and beauty of culture are completely left aside in this book. It literally reads like it was written by a robot, or someone who just learned about Brazilian culture by browsing Google for one hour. If you want to really learn about Brazilian culture and how it is different than your own, I would suggest reading a real book by a real scholar: an anthropologist, historian, or social critic who writes about the country as a whole. I gained absolutely nothing from this shallow book, and I can't imagine anyone else could. I only recommend it if you are bored and you are going on a five day trip to Brazil and you want to gain some super boring superficial knowledge that will not help you adapt or integrate in the country in the slightest. This book is a disgrace.
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