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The Portuguese: A Modern History Paperback – May 30, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Interlink Pub Group; 1 edition (May 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566568447
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566568449
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Planning a trip to Portugal? Or wondering why you should go to Portugal? If you want to read a book that will enhance the trip you are planning, you could read a historical mystery novel or you could read The Portuguese, which is a novelistic history.
If you think that history books are too dry and boring to hold your interest, you have not read Barry Hatton s The Portuguese: A Modern History. While he does go back as far as the Age of Discovery, the bygone age when Portugal spread its empire around the globe, most of the book focuses on history closer to our own time and indeed Portugal a shrunken Portugal today.

Throughout the book, Hatton is most interested in exploring what makes the Portuguese the way they are. How did a world power sink from view on the world stage? Why do they currently occupy a very low rung on the Eruopean economic ladder?

And when is the last time you read a history book that provides a travel guide for high points to visit? About the size of the state of Indiana, (350 miles by 130 miles) it contains enough charming landscape to keep tourists busy for weeks. Even those tourists who think they are visiting just another province of Spain since many foreigners get confused about where and what it is. Hatton s descriptions made me scribble a list

The Algarve, known for upscale resorts.
Lisbon, There is little sense of a rat race going on. It feels and this is intended as a compliment more like a gentle canter towards lunch.
Belém, the suburb of Lisbon where the Monument to Discovery celebrates those little wooden ships that ventured out in the 16th century to change the map of the world. Vasca de Gama, and Ferdinand Magellan and a dozen other intrepid explorers and traders sailed out of this port.

Alentejo, unspoiled coasts (go quickly, they re being developed) and forests of cork trees. Alentejo s low, whitewashed farmhouses with thick walls and small windows against the heat stand in solitude....In spring these silent plains are thick with the fragrance of wild herbs and colored with vast patches of purple, yellow, and red flowers around the cork trees.

Hatton, who has lived in Portugal as a correspondent for more than twenty-five years, is married to a Portuguese woman. He talks about food and music because he believes they are a key to understanding the Portuguese psyche.

They have a collective angst, which is expressed in the sad fado music of their country. Portugal is summed up by the nearly untranslatable word saudide which kind of means a sweet sadness a desire for something unattainable, but hoped for nonetheless. The people accept their fate, Hatton says, with a peaceful shrug and a sardonic comment rather than taking to the streets and demanding change like Greece, which in many ways is similar to Portugal.

The Portuguese feel that destiny has dealt them a poor hand and they shake their fist at their lot in life, but they do not as a rule express this indignation in a constructive way. Instead, Hatton says, sidestepping the law offers the thrill of successful transgression. He calls it a tame insurrection.

Even in the revolution that overthrew the 30-year dictatorship of Antonio Salazar, the soldiers sported carnations in their guns, demonstrating their unwillingness to fire on anyone. But the 1974 coup was quick and complete, and the growing pains of democracy followed, until they joined the European Union in 1986 and went on a growth and spending spree, largely at the cost to other countries in the EU. This tendency, and the cheerfulness of the people, the focus on family and church before country, the clinging an ancient and glorious past, all reminded me of Greece. In many ways Portugal seems to have a Mediterranean
nature, even though it is actually an Atlantic Ocean country. --a traveler's library

From the Back Cover

?Portugal is an established member of the European Union, one of the founders of the euro currency and a founding member of NATO. Yet it is an inconspicuous and largely overlooked country on the continent's southwest rim. Barry Hatton shines a light on this enigmatic corner of Europe by blending historical analysis with entertaining personal anecdotes. He describes the idiosyncrasies that make the Portuguese unique and surveys the eventful path that brought them to where they are today. Portugal, which claims Europe's oldest fixed borders, measures just 561 by 218 kilometers. Within that space, however, it offers a patchwork of widely differing and beautiful landscapes. With an easygoing and seductive lifestyle expressed most fully in their love of food, the Portuguese also have an anarchical streak evident in many facets of contemporary life. A veteran journalist and commentator on Portugal, the author gives a thorough overview of his adopted country.

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Customer Reviews

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I found this book fascinating to read.
J. Rodrigues
Not too many people take the time to write anything about Portugal, so this book is a breath of fresh air.
Music Fan
The author covers centuries of information in clear, factual and interesting narrative style.
Tony From Mass.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Music Fan on August 31, 2011
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed Barry Hatton's effort to do justice to the country of Portugal. Hatton is a british author living in Portugal, and he wouldn't want to live anywhere else. While most people in the world don't even know where to place Portugal on the map, Hatton writes about Portuguese history, culture, people's habits, their generosity and the reasons why this beautiful country is not taken seriously nowadays. The country might be small, but it is big in history and tragedy. Not many people know this was the richest country in the world, centuries ago. It is now one of the poorest of Europe. Hatton tries to explain what might have happened for Portugal to sink so low economically. But as he many times emphasizes in the book, the beauty of its land and people is still there. Not too many people take the time to write anything about Portugal, so this book is a breath of fresh air. Thank you, Mr. Hatton.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jackie on May 15, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am traveling to Portugal this summer and wanted to get a brief overview of the countries history. I have a history degree and teach history, so I like to know the background of a place before I travel. This book was very easy to read, and did give a general history. I definitely know more about Portugal now than I did before, however the writing is seriously flawed. The author jumps around constantly and doesn't seem to finish one story before he moves on to the next. For example he mentions that the Spanish ruled over Portugal for a while, but never discusses how that ends or what happened while they were doing it. In a chapter on Salazar he goes into a lengthy discussion of the current state of the Catholic Church in Portugal and their censorship over authors. He also doesn't have a bibliography of any kind.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Claudia Rei on September 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Barry Hatton, a British citizen for long based in Lisbon, provides an acute portrait of the Portuguese today. The foreign but well trained eye, picks on Portuguese traits (their generosity, their taste for disorder, their fear of disappearance) that are seldom visible for nationals, but that indeed are striking for outsiders that have observed them from within for long. To understand such traits, Hatton goes on describing the country's history, since before nationality was attained in 1143. The light but accurate tone of the narrative takes the reader through the relevant historical episodes that shape the country's culture and personality. A book for the interested foreigner, but also for the Portuguese themselves who often have trouble recognizing their faults as well as their qualities.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Carlo Marques on November 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
I wanted to read this book since it got published, and got my chance after one good friend (with excellent memory) offered me a copy.
As my title says, in order to progress, you have to listen what third parties say, and learn. Barry Hatton describes a view as an outsider from within. This is a valued perspective as there are many misconceptions surrounding Portugal and the Portuguese.
These misconceptions are not confined to foreigners, but are actually more present in the Portuguese collective mind itself.
Beside the obvious foreign public of this book, being myself Portuguese I advice reading it. Some pages might bring hard truths, but they also state the virtues. Accepting proactively these hard truths, valuing the virtues may become a tool to progress and build a better Portugal.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Irving Faunce on March 4, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very readable history of Portugal with good insights into the Portugese people.
Good overview of a country that we are planning to visit.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sanni M. Slabbert on October 8, 2011
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I have lived in Portugal and have noticed what has happened there. This book is an excellent review
I have studied the history and know the early beginnings of the great empire and now that the people from different parts of the empire have come to Portugal there are many new cultural developments.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Tony From Mass. on September 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was an excellent book, as an American born child of Portuguese immigrants I've always had a connection to Portugal. I've traveled many times and know of much of the beauty and customs that many haven't discovered. In an effort to learn more of my ethnic past I ordered this book. This is not your average history book, for me it was a page turner. The author covers centuries of information in clear, factual and interesting narrative style. Anyone looking to understand this great little country should definitely read this book.

I'd admit, throughout it's chapters I felt a great amount of portuguese pride as you learn of Portugal in the age of discovery, leading the era of world exploration and it's beautiful cities. But I also felt plenty of anger and shame through Portugal's downfalls, slavery, dictatorship, etc. It truly was a roller coaster of emotions for me. I imagine, that those with Portuguese connections might have similar experiences.

As the author, Barry Hatton explains, he could have left Portugal to work in great cities, such as New York or Brussels, etc. But his love of Lisbon and Portuguese life keeps him happy and fulfilled there. Knowing that allows you to respect his critical (and sometimes harsh) analyzes of Portugal.

I highly recommend this book. I'm so thankful it was written!
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