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The History of Brazil (Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations) Paperback – October 15, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-1403962553 ISBN-10: 1403962553 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade; 1st edition (October 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403962553
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403962553
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,592,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With over 3 million square miles of territory and 4,600 miles of shoreline, Brazil is the fifth largest nation in the world. In this impressively concise history, Levine, the director for the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Miami, provides a short, accessible overview of the country's complicated history and its many social contradictions. Like the other books in the Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations series (The History of Turkey, The History of Germany, etc.), this volume functions as sort of extended encyclopedia entry, which "synthesizes much of the current social literature on Brazil" while it introduces readers to the country's geography, economic and social systems, politics, history, and culture. In Levine's analysis, Brazil emerges as a country riddled with contradictions-a place where law requires all citizens over age 18 to vote, but praxis regularly undermines the country's commitment to democracy. (In the 1998 presidential election, 30% of the ballots were invalidated or reported blank.) And despite efforts by reformists, Brazilian politics continue to be dominated by a wealthy, privileged minority whose decisions maintain Brazil's status as one of the most unequal societies in the world. Even with such weighty problems, Brazil has promise, Levine suggests-it is a major recipient of foreign investment and seeks to wield greater influence internationally. With a timeline of important dates in Brazilian history, a listing of notable Brazilian personalities and an epilogue that provides direction for further reading, Levine's book is a good starting point for anyone interested in moving beyond the popular conception of Brazil as the land of Carnival and samba.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Praise for Levine's Secret Missions to Cuba:
"..a valuable contribution to any understanding of the politics and personalities of the Cuban exile in Miami."--Joan Didion

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
As an American who recently moved to Brazil, I was glad to read a one-volume history of the country written by someone who clearly has an encyclopedic knowledge. However, although the book has fascinating and useful information, it is marred by amazingly slip-shod editing - or perhaps it would be more accurate to say by apparently no editing whatsoever. The book reads as if the author had synthesized it from his previous works and stitched it together in great haste. Thus we read that the first European colonizers "did not know what to make of the peoples they encountered. They stood in awe of the virgin forests, which seemed to be as old as the world." (p.32 in the Palgrave Macmillan paperback edition) But just two pages later we are told that "the Portuguese did not know what to make of the peoples they encountered there. They stood in awe of virgin forests." Or this: "The causes for the civilian-military coup that now overthrew still another constitutional Brazilian government had many causes." (p.123)
Reading "A History of Brazil" is like watching a good film on a faulty projector: you are glad you sat through it, but you can't forget all the annoying moments when the film skipped or went out of focus.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Victor A. Vyssotsky on April 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is far more than a recitation of historical facts; it ties together the evolution of political, economic, cultural and social forces to show how Brazil came to be today. It's well worth reading; by a serious scholar, and with an excellent bibliography.
However, it presents the material from a particular viewpoint that makes its coverage somewhat selective, and possibly misleading on some topics. The underlying assumption of the book is that Brazil up until the 1990's was divided into a well-to-do politically empowered elite and an impoverished and mostly illiterate underclass, with little social mobility and no political influence. This assumption is too simplistic. At least by 1960 there was a large and thriving middle class, ranging from skilled industrial workers to well-educated professionals and a great number of independent small businessmen. Although these people were generally not rich, they could lead reasonably comfortable lives, and their political influence was (and has continued to be) much greater than Levine makes clear. For example, the social unrest that led to the military 1964 coup against President Goulart was most prominent in the middle class; I can testify to that because I was there while the strikes, demonstrations and protests were becoming more and more vigorous during 1961, '62 and '63, and I saw where the impetus was coming from.
A key fact that few Americans know (and even many Brazilians don't know) is that over the last 200+ years, the average rate of growth of GDP in Brazil has been higher than the average rate of growth of GDP in the United States.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Fitzpatrick on June 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
Foreigners have been writing about Brazil since it was "discovered" in 1500, with varying degrees of success and, in many cases, have tarred it with clichéd images that do not reflect reality.

Of the modern works, I would highly recommend Joseph Page's "The Brazilians" and advise readers to steer clear of Peter Robb's "Death in Brazil" which is one of the worst books I have ever read.*

Levine's attempt is a short academic history rather than a travel book or personal account of living in Brazil and gives a good introduction and incisive view of how Brazil is so different from the other countries in Latin America. Unfortunately, it ends in 1999 just before Lula became president and Brazil assumed a more prominent role on the world stage. Time for an update, Mr. Publisher if you read this!

Trying to encapsulate this story into a short volume is a hard task especially when you consider that Brazil is the size of a continent and one of the most racially-mixed, regionally-divided and socially-unequal countries in the world.

Brazil has always been different from other Latin American countries. While Spain's Latin American colonies broke into a number of separate states after bloody conflicts with Spain and each other, Brazil remained united and its independence from Portugal was relatively peaceful.

Brazil was also officially an empire for over 60 years and expanded its territory by force, coercion and diplomacy although modern Brazilians who complain about American and European imperialism do not like to be reminded of this.

It was dominated for 30 years in the mid-20th century by dictator Getulio Vargas who managed to bring opposing sides together in a way that marks Brazilian political life and baffles foreigners.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas K. Chalko on August 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book, has lots of information. It's useful. However, it's a terrible read and by far the worst history book I've ever read. I highly recommend that people interested in the history of brazil choose another book on the subject. The editing is sooo bad that entire paragraphs are hard to make sense of. The book does not flow well at all. It's terribly slow and almost uncomprehensive. I'm about done with the book now.. but I'm reading the damn book at about 10 pages an hour because it's such a bore.

Choose something else.

2 Stars for trying.
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