Brazil: Five Centuries of Change (Latin American Histories)

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9780195058093: Brazil: Five Centuries of Change (Latin American Histories)
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With a land mass larger than the continental United States, a unique culture that is part European, African, and indigenous, and the world's ninth largest economy, Brazil is one of the most important--yet one of the least understood--nations in the world.
Thomas Skidmore, a preeminent authority on Brazil, vividly traces the 500 years of Brazil's development. Its epic story begins in the wake of Vasco da Gama's historic circumnavigation of the globe, when another Portuguese vessel, commanded by Pedro Alvares Cabral, ran aground on the coast of Brazil in April 1500. From there Skidmore probes Portugal's remarkable command of the vast country in the face of the advances of the Spanish, French, and Dutch colonial interests; Brazil's compromised independence in 1822; its evolution as the center of world coffee cultivation; and the creation of the republic in the late nineteenth century. Here also are examinations of its unique forms of modernist art and literature, the dictatorship of Getulio Vargas and the military coups, and the ambitious reforms of current President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Informed by the most recent scholarship available, Brazil explores the country's many blessings: ethnic diversity, a vibrant cultural life, and a wealth of natural resources. But, as Skidmore writes, the Brazilians must also grapple with a history of political instability and military rule, a deplorable environmental record, chronic inflation, and international debt.
Mapping out its past as well as its future, this eloquent and detailed look at Brazil will be the standard history of the country for years to come.

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Europeans first became aware of the huge territory called Brazil as a distant outpost of what the Portuguese conquerors called the Estado de India, a far-flung "network of coastal enclaves running along the Indian Ocean, from Mozambique, around the Malabar coast of India, and all the way to Macao on the coast of China." Thomas Skidmore, a noted historian of Latin America, writes that it quickly emerged as something more, however: a near-fabulous land of opportunity. An early gold rush outside Rio de Janeiro confirmed this view, and Brazil attracted huge numbers of immigrants, so many that the Portuguese crown was forced to limit the number of young men who attempted to leave their native country in favor of the newfound promised land. And, for a time, Skidmore continues, Brazil indeed led the world in the production of gold, diamonds, and other precious gems and minerals, making considerable fortunes for a lucky few. Governmental ineptitude assured that Brazil never translated that wealth into a comfortable life for all its inhabitants, a condition that has endured to the present. Skidmore traces the history of Brazil from the time of the European conquest to the late 1990s, yielding a highly useful one-volume history that students and general readers alike will enjoy. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:


Thomas E. Skidmore, Professor of History and Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Brown University, is the author of Black into White: Race and Nationality in Brazilian Thought, The Politics of Military Rule in Brazil, 1964-1985 and, with Peter H. Smith, Modern Latin America, Fourth Edition (all available from Oxford University Press).

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9780195374551: Brazil: Five Centuries of Change, 2nd Edition (Latin American Histories)

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