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Rebellion in the Backlands (Os Sertoes ) Reissue Edition

13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226124445
ISBN-10: 0226124444
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 562 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (Phoenix Books); Reissue edition (September 15, 1957)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226124444
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226124445
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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62 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Victor A. Vyssotsky on January 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is familiar to every educated Brazilian, but is not widely known in the USA; it should be.
It recounts a historical episode of 1896 and 1897. The government of the Republic of Brazil decided to suppress a religious sect of perhaps 7000 members, some of them violent and lawless, living in a remote rural area; the sect denied the legitimacy of the Brazilian Republic. The ensuing campaign lasted ten months, involved the deaths of hundreds of Brazilian army soldiers, and culminated in the extermination of the sect; these days it might be considered genocide.
The book's author, a formal professional Brazilian army officer, covered the campaign for `O Estado do Sao Paulo', Brazil's equivalent to the New York Times. He was horrified. So he wrote this book, which has beeen compared to everything from Lawrence's `Seven Pillars of Wisdom' to Dickens, Carlyle, and the prophet Ezekiel. Originally published in 1902, it has been in print in Brazil ever since.
The book is tough reading (and is no easier in Portuguese than in English; Samuel Putnam, the translator, did a superb job.) So why should one read it?
For one thing, it poses in the starkest possible terms a dilemma we still face from time to time. Under what circumstances, and to what extent, is it ethical for an elected representative government to coerce an organized group of its citizens who sincerely deny the legitimacy of the government and the laws?
And, it forces the reader to ask: What is history? How should it be written? How do the facts of history depend on cultural assumptions? Euclides da Cunha, like Thucydides, could find no suitable model for what he wanted to write, so, like Thucydides, he invented his own.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
Euclides da Cunha was a journalist who witnessed the aftermath of the Canudos war. The book tells the story of the creation of the Canudos community by Antonio Conselheiro, a mystic figure whose family was killed by landowners in one of the poorest quarters of Brazil, and its destruction by the Brazilian army.
Da Cunha's prose is addictive. Once you start reading you won't be able to put the book down. I advise you, however, to skip the first part, a boring description of the region's geography. I know more than one person that dropped this wonderful book because of this introduction.
For those of you interested in Brazilian literature I would also a suggest reading Machado de Assis (Memorias Postumas de Bras Cubas is a fine example of his work), Erico Verissimo (Incidente em Antares, Ana Terra, o Tempo e o Vento) and Clarice Lispector.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Richard R on December 28, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Da Cunha�s 1902 book has been justifiably called the �Bible of Brazilian Nationality�. This is a challenging book, over 500 pages in this edition, dense and probably unsuitable to those who need the stimulation of a pop novel. Da Cunha was present at the 1896-97 military assaults on the rebellious village of �Canudos� in the arid Brazilian interior. A gifted writer with a background as a military engineer, Da Cunha brings a precise expert�s eye to the military campaigns, never failing at such details as order of battle, casualties, supply lines, and tactics. The campaigns themselves were stirring and bloody affairs: four separate military campaigns, each larger than the last that met increasingly stiff resistance from the Canudos villagers. In the end, 10,000 souls may have perished on both sides. The end, of course, is well known to all Brazilians. �Canudos did not surrender. The only case of its kind in history, it held out to the last man. Conquered inch by inch, in the literal meaning of the words, it fell on October 5, toward dusk � when the last defenders fell, dying every man of them. There were only four of them left: an old man, two other grown men, and a child, facing a furiously raging army of five thousand soldiers.�
If the book were merely a military history, it would be successful. But it is far more, for Da Cunha is more than just a military observer. He is geologist, geographer, anthropologist, sociologist, and historian. This book literally defines the still-nascent nation of Brazil. The backwoods villagers of Canudos were inspired by a religious fervor cultivated by a heretical evangelist named Antonio the Counselor. Their story is part Masada and part Waco. Da Cunha places Antonio in the context of his own life and the development of Brazil�s interior.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Roberto P. De Ferraz on December 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
"Rebellion in the Backlands" is one of the best books ever written in the Brazilian literature and one of the most poorly known, given the intrincacies of the Euclidian vocabulary. The centennial of the first publication of the book was commemorated in 2002 not only in Brazil but also abroad, where there are many intellectuals who are keen of everything related to the book, the so-called euclidians. "Os Sertões", the Brazilian Portuguese name of the book, is an epic and was inspirational to many ancient and modern films run in Brazil about the conflict, and also to a book by the Peruvian celebrated author Mario Vargas Llosa ("The War at the End of the World"), who had Euclides da Cunha as idol since his childhood.
Euclides da Cunha, then a war correspondent of the very famous southern Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo, wrote the book with a view to the conflicts ocurring in Bahia, after the so-called Proclamation of Republic, in 1889, thus ending 72 years of monarchical rule, something which upset many powerful landowners tied to imperial interest to raise arms against the new republican order. The revolt, known as the War of Canudos, as a historic fact, was eventually lost and the insurrects had to put down their arms, and the battle was won by government troops, but the War of Canudos was to enter Brazilian history as one of the cruelest ever fought in Brazil, and the government had to spend much more money than at first foreseen, losing its face in the end: how come a so strong army had so much difficulty to conquer a bunch of illiterate misers?. All this to kill the dozens of thousands of insurrected who amassed themselves in the poor village of Canudos, in the northeastern region of Brazil, the poorest region of a poor country.
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