A comprehensive and readable account of 500 years of Brazilian history.
It's no mean feat to tell the unruly story of a country as large, diverse and divided as Brazil in one volume of narrative history. But Fausto succeeds admirably in presenting facts, figures, events and influences in an orderly, palatable fashion. Expansion led the Portuguese to Brazil in 1500, when Pedro Alvares Cabral first sighted the country's coast. From the beginning, Brazil was totally dependent on slavery, first enslaving Indians and then importing Africans to work one or another of the labor-intensive aspects of the boom-or-bust economy. In 1888, slavery was reluctantly abolished under heavy pressure from Britain, which was then playing a major role in attempting to help Brazil recover from its latest financial disaster. Although people of color outnumbered whites for hundreds of years, there were no slave uprisings or effective abolitionist movements to force the issue. Brazil's independence from Portugal happened in much the same haphazard way as the country's slip into dictatorship. Sao Paulo University professor Fausto has written a nuts-and-bolts account that will serve general readers as a navigable port of entry into the history and life of one of the world's most culturally rich nations. Photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)