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Rebellion in the Backlands (Os Sertoes ) Reissue Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Never heard of this author, highly recommended by someone who knows...wonderful, incisive. Haven't finished but it's going to be a great weekend.Published on May 2, 2013 by john g.
It was a good book. The first two parts are a little slow, but it was good. Great Brazilian literature.Published on April 23, 2013 by Abby Hansen
Pillars of Wisdom...
Euclides da Cunha's book "Rebellion in the Backlands" was first published in 1902 in Brazil. Since then at least 15 editions have been printed. Read more
I have a great pity for the translator of this book,a work very difficult to be read even to those who speaks Portuguese. Read morePublished on December 28, 2011 by carlos rezende
In addition to the reviews previously posted, my advice to the non-intellectual reader is to first read Errol Lincoln Uys's Brazil, which is an easy to read historical... Read morePublished on March 20, 2006 by Michael Wilken
This is not an easy book. Don't pick it up if you like pop novels and sci-fi. It's for the serious reader of history, military tactics, and social upheaval. Read morePublished on December 2, 2004 by Jenna
MAYBE "OS SERTOES", THE TITLE IN PORTUGUESE ,IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOKS EVER WRITEN BY A BRAZILIAN AUTHOR. Read morePublished on June 7, 1999
Literally, this is the work of a genius. the author was the very definition of genius, a journalist, anthropologist, geologist, engineer, etc. Read morePublished on September 18, 1998