Most helpful positive review
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
An essential read for those that are going to live in, or seek to understand Brazil.
on October 21, 2007
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.